The unemployment rate in the UK has remained steady at 7.8%, although the latest figures released today show a rise in the number of people out of work.
At the same time, however, there were more people in employment because of a fall in the number of economically inactive people.
From November 2012 to January 2013 there were 2.52 million people unemployed, up 7,000 from the previous three-month period but down 136,000 from a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne highlighted the fact that youth unemployment is rising back towards the one million mark and unemployment amongst women is up again.
The number of young people aged 16 to 24 who were out of work increased to 993,000, up 48,000 from the previous three months. This takes the youth unemployment rate to 21.2% for November 2012 to January 2013, a rise of 0.9 percentage points from August to October 2012.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, the UK’s national trade union centre, said that today’s figures confirm that economic stagnation has caught up with the jobs market and young people are bearing the brunt of the jobs crisis. She called on Chancellor George Osborne, in his Budget speech today, to “change course and prioritise jobs, growth and living standards.”
Although the report from the ONS shows a rise in unemployment, the figures also reveal that employment increased by 131,000 in the three months to January 2013 and there were 29.73 million people in employment aged 16 and over. There was an increase of 151,000 in the number of people employed in the private sector, while 20,000 jobs were lost in the public sector.
During the November-January period there were 8.95 million people aged 16 to 64 who were classed as economically inactive, down 118,000 from August to October 2012 and a decrease of 320,000 from a year earlier. The statistics agency noted that a fall in the number of economically inactive people can increase the labour force, with some finding a job and others looking for work and classed as unemployed. This can explain how both employment and unemployment can rise at the same time.
Separate figures from the ONS show that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in February 2013 was down 1,500 from January.
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), welcomed the continued growth in employment and the fall in the number of people claiming JSA. His colleague David Kern, the BCC’s chief economist, said that the UK labour market is showing “remarkable strength” and the private sector has again proved that it is capable of creating jobs while the public sector shrinks.