Unemployment levels are once again on the rise

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that wage levels, excluding bonuses, rose by an annual rate of 2.7 per cent in the three months to November – the strongest increase since August 2015.

Statisticians had expected a slightly weaker increase, as they feared that rising prices in consumer goods would effect consumer spending power. However, this theory was proved wrong, as spending power is being aided by the rise in average wages.

The figures revealed a small drop – for the second month in a row – in the number of people in work, though the employment rate was steady at its record high of 74.5 per cent.

The ONS said the jobless rate also remained the same – at its 11-year low of 4.8 per cent – while the number of people without a job fell 52,000 to 1.6 million.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit also fell by 10,100 in December.

Commenting on the figures, ONS senior statistician David Freeman said:

“While employment is little changed on the quarter, the rate remains at an historical high.

“The rate at which pay is increasing continues to pick up in cash terms, though it remains moderate.

The data also reveals that a record number of women are in employment but youth unemployment remains far higher than average levels,

Dr Carole Easton OBE, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said:

 “Young Women’s Trust welcomes the fact that there is a record number of women in work. This is progress we should rightly be pleased about. But too many young women remain shut out of the jobs market.

“More than 500,000 young women are workless, despite the vast majority wanting jobs. 227,000 young women are unemployed and a further 355,000 young women – 80,000 more than men – are categorised as “economically inactive” and not in education or training. Young Women’s Trust has found they are not given the support they need to find work.

“There can be no complacency. Giving young people the right skills and support to find work, and ensuring decent, flexible jobs are available and accessible, will help them become financially independent. This would benefit businesses and the economy too.”