Rise in unemployment figures fuels concern over jobs for young people


Another increase in unemployment has sparked concern about the jobs market, especially for young people.

The jobless total went up by 25,000 in the quarter to June, to 1.85 million, the second rise in two months, the first time there have been two consecutive jumps for two years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it was possible the jobs market was "levelling off".

Business groups said the figures were disappointed, while a union leader warned of the "first crack in the edifice of post-election Tory economic triumphalism".

The Government pointed out there were nearly two million more people in work than in 2010, with almost half a million more jobs in the private sector over the last year.

Unemployment has fallen by 221,000 in the last year, and long-term unemployment has been cut by more than 210,000 since 2010

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 4,900 last month to 792,400 following a slight increase in June.

There were 31 million people in work in the latest quarter, 63,000 fewer than the three months to March, but 354,000 more than a year ago.

A record 14.5 million women are in work, while employment for men slumped by 71,000 to just under 16.5 million compared with the previous quarter.

ONS statistician David Freeman said: "This is now the second consecutive time we've reported fewer people in work on the quarter.

"While it's too early to conclude that the jobs market is levelling off, these figures certainly strengthen that possibility. Growth in pay, however, remains solid."

Average earnings increased by 2.4% in the year to June, down by 0.8% on the previous month, but still ahead of inflation.

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those on long-term sick leave or who have given up looking for work, has increased by 7,000 to just under nine million.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Thanks to our long term economic plan we have already seen two million more people in jobs since 2010. On top of that, today's figures show job vacancies at a near record high - evidence of the continued confidence of British businesses, and potential for further growth in the UK economy."

Stephen Timms, acting shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "The rise in unemployment for a second month in a row is worrying and shows we cannot afford to be complacent about the recovery.

"The rise in youth unemployment highlights a real danger that young people are being left behind. Ministers must urgently deliver more high-quality apprenticeships to give young people the skills they need to get a job and build a future."

David Kern, chief economist of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Although the UK jobs market remains robust, these figures are disappointing because for the second month in a row we have seen unemployment rise and employment fall. It is also concerning that the youth unemployment rate rose."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It is too soon to say that jobs growth is now in a pattern of decline, but poor employment and unemployment results for a second month running are worrying.

"If we want a recovery that is built to last for the long-term, we need a better economic plan with more investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation to help job creation and growth."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "This is the first crack in the edifice of post-election Tory economic triumphalism.

John Cridland, CBI director general, said: "It is disappointing to see employment falling, caused by a drop in the number of people working part-time.

"While the overall pace of pay growth has remained steady, it has reduced slightly in the private sector, where growth in regular pay has slowed and bonus payments have fallen.