Unemployment in the UK has risen for the first time in two years, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The labour market data for the three months to May 2015 showed that unemployment rose by 15,000 to 1.85 million, while the pace of pay rises also increased.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

“While it is disappointing to see that employment has fallen, this is largely due to reductions among those self-employed.

“This fall must be seen against the backdrop of strong employment growth since the end of 2013, so it is far too early to draw conclusions. Nevertheless, it offers a timely reminder of the importance of Government treading carefully in the labour market and protecting the flexibility that gives Britain a great record on jobs.”

Between March and May 2015, the number of people in work in the UK fell by 67,000 down to 30.98 million. The fall was the first since April 2013.

In this period the rate of real terms pay in the UK continued to grow, with average weekly earnings rising by 2.8 percent. The increase is at the highest rate since 2009.

Mark Beatson, CIPD Chief Economist, said:

“The new figures suggest that the recent increases in employment may be starting to level off, which appears to be hitting the short-term unemployed and young people in particular.

The government needs to ensure that it maintains an adequate level of support for people becoming unemployed alongside its quite justified focus on support for the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

The target to increase the number of apprenticeships is welcome, but they are only part of the solution because apprenticeships aren’t suitable for all employers. To combat this, we need to see national programmes complemented by more local initiatives that can meet the needs of local employers and get more young people into work.”