Commenting on the labour market figures published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:  

“Although the rise in unemployment was not as large as some had feared, there has been a worse than expected decline in the level of employment. If there had not been a steep rise in the number of economically inactive people – those not in employment or claiming benefit – the increase in unemployment would have been much worse.  

“Even if the economy starts growing later this year, it is likely that unemployment will continue rising at a rapid pace. There is still a realistic chance that the jobless total will exceed 3 million next year and it is important for the Government to address this. The planned increase in National Insurance contributions in 2011 will slow a recovery in the jobs market, and it must be scrapped.”