Unemployment grows again

Press Releases

15 Mar 2011

The latest release from the Office for National Statistics again showed the weak state of the labour market. Unemployment on the broader ILO measure rose again in the period November 2010 to January 2011, by 27,000, and stands at 2.5 million. Unemployment is now at its highest since 1994 and the unemployment rate is 8 per cent. The narrower claimant count measure fell by 10,200 in February.

The number of people in work (aged 16 or over) increased slightly, by 32,000. There was a growth of 75,000 in full-time jobs which was partly offset by a decline of 43,000 in the numbers working part-time. This growth in employment was driven entirely by an increasing number of older workers, as the numbers aged of 65 and over who are in work increased by 56,000.

Excluding the temporary jobs associated with the Census the number of vacancies increased fractionally, by 8,000 from the three months to November 2010.

Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies commented on the latest figures.

‘The latest release of employment figures from the ONS were something of a mixed bag, but the data once again serve to highlight the fragility in the labour market. Unemployment remains the critical issue. The numbers who were unemployed grew again, with unemployment reaching its highest level for a decade and a half. The small increase in employment did not improve the unemployment picture because most of the increase reflected more people working past the state pension age. It is, nevertheless, a positive sign, following the recent shift towards part-time work, that full-time work is now increasing again.’

Mr Meager noted that young people and the long-term unemployed stood out as requiring urgent support.

‘Young people have been severely hit by the difficult conditions in the economy. Some 974,000 16-24 year olds are now unemployed, the highest figure since comparable records began. Despite the fact that up to a third of these are full-time students looking for work, the continuing growth in core youth unemployment is serious and alarming. Even short periods of time spent unemployed at a young age can impact negatively on a person's entire working life. The continuing growth in long-term unemployment which stands at 850,000, almost twice the level of two years ago is another development with possibly serious long-term social and economic consequences. It is clear that while the broader policy agenda must focus on stimulating growth in the economy and labour market, there remains a strong rationale for increased targeted interventions to support these groups.’