Unemployment rose by 118,000 in the three months between September and November (Stuttgart: A0Z24E – news) taking the total jobless count to 2.685 million.
The figures confirm analyst expectations of a rise from last month’s figure of 2.6 million, taking the jobless rate from 8.3% to 8.4%.But benefit claims saw a smaller than expected rise of 1,200 in December to 1.6 million.
Although this was the highest level since January 2010, it suggested that the labour market deterioration may be easing.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling echoed the thought saying that although the level of unemployment was “clearly much too high” the figures were more complicated than the headline numbers suggest.
He told Sky News the increase in those seeking Jobseekers’ Allowance, albeit small, was partly due to the Government moving some people from other benefits onto the dole so the actual figure may actually have decreased.
Also employment in the private sector had increased in the three-month period, as more people took on part-time jobs.
“So at the moment, just in that one quarter at least, the private sector is creating jobs faster than the public secotr is losing them,” he said.
Meanwhile, a staggering 988,000 working days were lost in November due to industrial action, reflecting the effect of the public sector strike on November 30 on the official statistics.
Wage growth remained muted, with average earnings up 1.9% compared to a year ago.
Smaller firms are expected to shed staff in the first three months of the year according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Meanwhile, the TUC has warned that the prospects of finding a job are likely to get “much worse” in the face of fresh cuts in public spending this year.
Responding to the latest unemployment figures published today (Wednesday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
‘These figures are even worse than the bleak economic forecasts predicted, with new records achieved for youth and female unemployment.
‘The fear is now that mass joblessness becomes a permanent scar on the UK – with unemployment rising by 1,300 a day towards the end of last year.
‘The news for those in work isn’t great either, with pay growth falling and more people having to move to into part-time and insecure self-employment.
‘We are in the midst of a full blown jobs crisis that is causing misery for millions and ruining any chance of an economic recovery. Ministers must start putting forward bold solutions to address this crisis, starting with a job guarantee for any young person out of work for six months.’