“These figures are disappointing and slightly worse than expected. For the first time in six months, unemployment is up and employment is down. The number of people working full-time has fallen, while the number of those working part-time because they could not find a full-time job rose to a new record high. While there is no cause for despondency, since longer-term trends still point towards a relatively strong labour market this year, these figures highlight the challenges facing the economy in the months ahead.
“On the basis of these figures, we reiterate our forecast that UK unemployment will likely rise to 2.6million over the next 12-18 months, a further net increase of around 100,000. In view of the growing pressures on the economy as the deficit-cutting programme is implemented more forcefully, and given the expected fall in public sector employment, it is critical that businesses are able to create new jobs.
“We have seen some positive developments this year, but these trends must be encouraged. In particular, the labour market needs to remain as flexible as possible. Onerous regulation must be scrapped or suspended so that the private sector can absorb the temporary job losses created by the fiscal austerity plan.”