POLITICS

Unemployment Increases By 70,000 To Hit 2.56 Million

17/04/2013 10:37 BST | Updated 17/04/2013 13:40 BST
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 02: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne listens to a speech by the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King during the opening of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) on April 2, 2013 in London, England. The PRA is now responsible for the regulation of approximately 1,700 financial firms including banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and major investment firms. (Photo by Lefteris Pitarakis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Unemployment has increased by 70,000 to 2.56 million, with rises among young people and those out of work for more than a year.

The total is the worst since last summer, giving the UK a jobless rate of 7.9%.

The number of people in work fell by 2,000 in the latest quarter to February, to just under 30 million - the first time the figure has dipped since autumn 2011.

Today's data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 900,000 people have been out of work for more than a year, an 8,000 increase on the three months to November, while the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds rose by 20,000 to 979,000.

There was a 7,000 fall in Jobseeker's Allowance claimants last month, to 1.53 million.

Meanwhile, the rise in average earnings continued to lag behind inflation, with total pay increasing by just 0.8% in the year to February, down by 0.4% on the previous month.

Statisticians said it was the lowest growth rate since the end of 2009, while the 1% rise in regular pay, which excludes bonuses, was the lowest since records began in 2001.

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The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, people on long-term sick leave or those who have given up looking for work, fell by 57,000 to 8.95 million.

Despite today's increase in unemployment, the total is 71,000 lower than a year ago.

There has been a 62,000 fall in the number of people in part-time jobs, to just over eight million, with a 60,000 increase in full-time employment, to 21.6 million.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "Today's figures show a further fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), including a welcome drop amongst young people.

"But there are still tough challenges ahead. We will continue to give jobseekers all the help and support they need to realise their aspirations."

Ministers said the number of JSA claimants fell in every region of England, Wales and Scotland, while the number of new claims was at its lowest level for more than four years.

The number of young people claiming JSA is down by 2,800 on the month, and is 65,400 lower than last year.

GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said: "The Chancellor should heed IMF advice to change course to grow the economy to end this needless waste of human talent."