The latest Labour Market Statistics, which mainly cover the three month period to end December 2011, provide more bad news on jobs and suggest that there is worse to come.
Overall unemployment increased by 48,000 to 2.67 million over the quarter, giving an unemployment rate of 8.4%. The figure for the number unemployed was 179,000 higher than a year earlier and included 860,000 who have been out of work for over 12 months. The number unemployed for two years or more was 423,000 over the same period.
Male unemployment increased by 16,000 to 1.55 million and female unemployment increased by 32,000 to 1.23 million. Youth unemployment increased by 22,000 to 1.04 million, giving an unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds of 22.2%.
The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 83,000 to 1.35 million over the quarter, the highest figure since comparable records began 20 years ago.
The number of ‘economically inactive’ people fell by 78,000 to 9.29 million, giving an economic inactivity rate of 23.1%. (Economically inactive people are 16-64 year olds who are not working but who are not included in the unemployment figures because they had not been looking for work over the previous four weeks and were not available to start work within the following two weeks. They include the long-term sick, home makers, early retirees and those who have simply given up trying to find work.)
The number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants increased by 6,900 in January 2012 to 1.6 million, giving a claimant count of 5%.
The number of job vacancies increased by 11,000 to 476,000 in the three months to October 2011, but this still left an average of over 5.6 unemployment people chasing every vacancy.
According to the Financial Times, most economists expect unemployment to rise further over the coming months, with many predicting a peak of 2.8 or 2.9 million.
Richard Lynch is a Dudden Hill resident. He is a retired Unite the Union official and currently conducts voluntary work on employment rights for the Brent Community Law Centre. He also acts as an accompanying representative for the GMB union.