• In the three months to December 2011, unemployment rose by 48,000, but employment increased by 60,000
• The number of unemployed people aged 16-24 rose by 22,000 over the quarter and remains above 1m
• The number of people working part-time because they couldn’t find a full time job rose 83,000 on the quarter, to the highest level since records began in 1992
Commenting on the labour market figures published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“In the face of challenging economic circumstances, both in the UK and in the eurozone, these figures are better than the markets expected. Although the unemployment rate was last higher in 1995, the increase in the last three months was the smallest since June. Although the increase in employment was stronger than expected, there is a slight cause for concern. The number of full-time employees fell, and the increase in employment was mainly due to a rise in part-time workers. The high level of youth unemployment, which remains above one million, is also worrying, even though the total figure includes more than 300,000 people in full-time education who are looking for work.
“Businesses are ready to do their bit, and the Youth Contract will provide a much-needed jobs boost for the young. But the government must ensure the scheme works effectively, and further steps should be taken to incentivise businesses to hire young people. In our December forecast, we predicted that unemployment will rise to 2.77m at the end of 2012, but there is now a real possibility the total will be higher. With job losses in the public sector likely to continue, the Chancellor must use his upcoming Budget to introduce measures that will help the private sector create more jobs.”