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Unemployment rose by 15,000 in the first three months of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It says the number of people in work fell by 43,000 when comparing January – March 2013 with the previous three months so that 29.71 million people were in work. The employment rate stood at 71.4% of all people aged 16 to 64.
There were 2.52 million people who were looking and available to work but unable to find a job. The percentage of the labour force aged 16 and over who were unemployed was 7.8%.
However, the number of vacancies was at the highest level since 2008. Between February and April 2013, there were 503,000 jobs advertised.
Nearly one in five of unemployed people had been looking for work for over two years, but almost half had been looking for work for six months or less. The remainder had been looking for work for some time between six months and two years.
Between October – December 2012 and January – March 2013 there were 47,000 more people who were not in the labour force. However this rise was driven by a 58,000 increase in inactive men. The number of inactive women fell by 10,000, with a continuing fall in the number of women looking after the family or home.
Even though there has been an estimated 15,000 rise in the number of unemployed people between October – December 2012 and January – March 2013, there has been a small fall of 7,300 in the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance between March and April 2013.
Average weekly earnings excluding bonus payments rose by just 0.8% compared with the same period a year earlier. This is the smallest growth reported since records began in 2001. In cash terms, average weekly earnings excluding bonus payments were £444 in March 2013, before taxes and other deductions from gross pay; this is up from £441 a year earlier.
Including bonus payments the average weekly wage rose by 0.4% comparing January – March 2013 with the same period a year earlier. This rate has not been lower since March to May 2009. Some businesses have reported that bonuses that would normally be paid in March are expected to be paid later. This partially explains the low growth rate for average weekly earnings including bonuses, says the ONS. At £463 in March 2013, average weekly wages including bonus payments were lower when compared with March 2012 (£466).