• In the three months to January 2012, unemployment increased by 28,000 while employment rose by 9,000
• The number of unemployed people aged 16-24 increased by 16,000 over the quarter and remained above one million
• The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 110,000 on the quarter, the highest since comparable records began
Commenting on the unemployment figures published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:“With economic pressures facing both the UK and the eurozone, these figures are disappointing, but unsurprising. One positive feature is that the increase in unemployment was the smallest since the three months to May 2011. Furthermore, in the final three months of last year the number of people employed in the private sector increased by 45,000, while public sector employment fell by 37,000. This shows that the private sector is willing and able to drive the economy forward at a time when the public sector is shrinking.
“But there are some causes for concern. Youth unemployment has risen further and remains above one million. However, the figure includes more than 300,000 people in full-time education who are looking for work.  The record high number of those working part-time because they couldn’t find a full-time job is also worrying.
“We urge the Chancellor to use next week’s Budget to introduce measures that will allow businesses to create even more jobs. The government must ensure that the Youth Contract scheme works effectively, and should scale up incentives for businesses to hire young people. Tax rises, like the business rates rise scheduled for April, should be scrapped to give employers confidence. In our recent forecast, we predicted unemployment will hit 2.9 million in the first quarter of 2013, a net increase of 230,000. With job losses in the public sector likely to continue, private-sector job creation must be put at the top of the government’s agenda.”