Video: More gloom as jobless total hits 17-year high

0
Have your say

UNEMPLOYMENT reached a 17-year high today after another 128,000 joined the jobless ranks, taking the total to 2.64 million.

A series of grim figures delivered a pre-Christmas blow to the Government, with youth and female unemployment showing big rises and the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance increasing for the ninth month in a row.

Female unemployment is set to increase as private firms fail to create enough jobs to offset public sector cuts

Female unemployment is set to increase as private firms fail to create enough jobs to offset public sector cuts

In Yorkshire, 253,000 people - 9.5% - are out of work, 9,000 more than in the previous three months.

Travel giant Thomas Cook added to the gloom by announcing more than 600 job losses and 115 shop closures.

Employment fell by 63,000 in the quarter to October to 29.11 million, while the number of people working in the public sector dipped below six million for the first time since 2003.

The unemployment rate is now 8.3%, up 0.4% on the quarter - the highest since 1996 - while the jobless total is now worse than at any time since 1994.

Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 54,000 to 1.03 million, the highest since records began in 1992.

The Office for National Statistics also reported that women’s unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest figure since 1988.

The number of people out of work for longer than a year rose by 19,000 in the latest quarter to 868,000, the worst figure since 1996.

Jobseeker’s allowance claimants increased by 3,000 last month to 1.6 million, the ninth consecutive monthly rise and the highest total since the start of 2010.

The number of job vacancies fell by 8,000 to 455,000, while 161,000 people were made redundant in the three months to October, down by 1,000 on the previous quarter.

The number of economically-inactive people, including students, those on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative, or who have given up looking for a job, fell by 54,000 to 9.33 million.

Public sector employment fell by 67,000 in the third quarter of the year to 5.9 million, including 59,000 in local government and 9,000 in the civil service.

Private sector employment increased by 5,000 to 23.1 million.

Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to October, down by 0.3% on the previous month, taking average weekly pay to £464.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “A double-dip Osborne recession, rising unemployment, rapidly falling living standards are the Tory/Lib Dem miserable Christmas gifts to the nation. The millions of workers without jobs face a miserable Christmas and a bleak New Year.

“Instead of attacking pensions and employment rights and making it easier to sack people, the Government should be pursuing policies to create jobs, which is something it is failing to do.

“Where are all the jobs that it promised to make up for the 710,000 jobs cut in the public sector as an act of deliberate policy?

“This Government, upon election, made cuts which shattered confidence and stalled the then internationally-shared priorities for recovery from the bankers’ recession. It bears a heavy responsibility for the shifting of international priorities away from growth, and more economic pain.”

Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: “Today’s statistics represent yet again the plight of a generation of young people who are seeking but not finding opportunities to learn and to earn.

“While recent measures announced by the Government to help rescue young people from the trap of long-term unemployment are a good start, more must be done to prevent the 16 to 24-year-olds of today becoming a third of those parents expected to be living in poverty by 2020.

“It remains imperative that we do more to provide the right opportunities to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people so that they have a chance of achieving their potential, regardless of their background.”

Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: “These shocking figures show that all the Government’s promises on jobs and apprenticeships are as hollow as a chocolate Father Christmas.

“This ConDem Government have sat back and done nothing while the gap between haves and have-nots in Britain has widened to record levels on their watch.

“Nowhere is the Government’s inaction and impotency more graphically illustrated than at Bombardier in Derby where their kow-towing to the EU and Siemens has left thousands of manufacturing jobs and apprenticeships on the block. They are a total disgrace.”

Mike Fetters, director of totaljobs.com, said: “These latest depressing statistics don’t come as a surprise.

“The labour market has been showing for months that we are sliding with ever greater speed into another recession and neither Government nor business have much in the way of cards up their sleeves to solve an employment problem that is developing into a crisis.”

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “There has obviously been an unwelcome increase in unemployment since the summer but these latest figures show some signs that the labour market is stabilising.

“The number of people in employment is higher than last month’s published figure and the number of unemployed people is steadying. Encouragingly this is also the case for young people not in education.

“The increase in those claiming jobseeker’s allowance has slowed and our welfare reforms are having a positive impact, with overall benefit claimant numbers falling by around 40,000 in the last 18 months.”

The Government said there were still economic challenges ahead, adding it was reacting by helping people to find employment through initiatives with the private sector.

The £1 billion programme to help young unemployed people has pledged 250,000 extra work experience places over the next three years, taking the total to at least 100,000 places a year.

Half of under 25 year olds taking part were leaving benefits within three months, said ministers.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “No amount of spin can put a gloss on these terrible figures. Worryingly, the latest rise in job losses looks less like a bad blip and more like a trend of entrenched high unemployment, with new records being set each month for the number of women and young people out of work.

“Ministers will desperately attempt to lay the blame on the Eurozone but it is the UK Government alone that is responsible for the huge cull of public sector employment. There are now 12 public sector workers losing their jobs for every new post which is created in the private sector.

“Rather than picking a fight with itself over Europe, the Government must urgently turn its attention to the jobs crisis and invest in employment schemes to get people back into work and stave off the risk of mass long-term unemployment.”

Unison leader Dave Prentis said: “This is a seriously bleak midwinter. Every month, as unemployment rises, and figures hit a 17-year high, the Government continues to ignore the human cost and push ahead with its hard and fast cuts, clinging to the hope that a struggling private sector can pick up the pieces.

“These figures deliver a cold hard dose of reality. It is shameful to see that yet again, women, who make up the majority of low-paid public sector workers, are the hardest hit by job losses.”

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “This is another grim month for jobs, with private sector companies still reluctant to hire.

“Young people are suffering the most, with more than one in five out of work. The ongoing failure to resolve the euro crisis is likely to mean that unemployment rises still further over the winter. Many businesses are still watching and waiting.”

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The Government needs to take action to stem this trend once and for all. Aspiring to create 100,000 female-owned businesses, and providing mentoring, will help incentivise those budding female entrepreneurs to set up in business.

“Bringing forward the youth contract, and ensuring young people can use these opportunities from day one of signing on for jobseeker’s allowance, will ensure that young people are getting the skills they need early on and not losing out at the very beginning of their career.

“Allowing people to take part in work trials from day one of signing on will help create 46,000 new jobs. Unemployment is at a 17-year high and has been rising for too long now. It is time the Government put in practical steps to prevent this from happening yet again.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “These disastrous unemployment figures mark a bleak end to 2011. The Government’s policies mean things could be even worse in the new year.

“The Government’s claim that the private sector would create hundreds of thousands of jobs was as believable as Father Christmas.

“The coalition’s policies of deep cuts, attacks on the public sector and on our employment rights mean there is little hope things will improve in the new year.

“There is no sign that the private sector is creating any jobs, and the Government has no strategy for manufacturing, which should be driving the economy.”

Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It’s another month, and it’s yet another grim record high in unemployment with no end in sight. The Government has well and truly clobbered the recovery and now more families face Christmas without a job than at any time since the early 1990s.

“As every month passes, it is getting clearer and clearer that the Government’s welfare to work programmes are simply failing. The lowest amount of people are coming off benefits and into work than at any time since 1998.

“The result is now a soaring welfare bill that is creating an almighty hangover for Britain to deal with. The Government is now set to borrow £158 billion more than planned - more than £6,500 for every household in the country. This isn’t borrowing to support the economy through difficult times, but a huge new bill for failure.

“In the last quarter, for every 13 jobs lost in the public sector, just one was created in the private sector. Quite simply we’re losing jobs faster than we’re creating them. Eighteen months after they were elected the Government’s complacency is staggering. Their economic policies are failing and Britain desperately needs a plan that works.”

Martina Milburn, chief executive of youth charity The Prince’s Trust, said: “Too many young lives are being wasted in the dole queue. It is frightening to think that more than two-fifths of unemployed young people have been jobless for more than six months.

“Long-term unemployed young people are the most vulnerable, with many trapped in a vicious cycle of joblessness, anxiety and depression. Government, charities and employers must work together now to help these young people escape a long and downward spiral.”

Andrew Sissons, researcher at The Work Foundation, said: “The labour market is on a dangerous trajectory, as today’s numbers confirm that our private sector recovery has stalled. Businesses are suffering from an acute lack of confidence, which makes it very hard for them to create jobs. The Eurozone crisis also makes it impossible for companies to plan for the long-term, while consumers at home appear to be cutting back their spending.

“Most worrying is the prospect of unemployment remaining high for years to come. Persistently high unemployment will worsen the already serious problem of long-term unemployment.”

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The worsening of the UK labour market is not as bad as many feared, given the worrying economic news at home and developments in the eurozone.

“With job losses in the public sector likely to continue, every effort must be made to help the private sector create more jobs. Cutting red tape and making it easier for people to acquire the right skills for the work place are vital, but this is not enough. The MPC must persevere with an aggressive QE programme and the Government must act quickly to implement the credit-easing measures announced in the Autumn statement.

“Our recent forecast predicts that total UK unemployment is likely to increase to 2.77 million or 8.7% of the workforce by the end of 2012.”

Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It’s another month, and it’s yet another grim record high in unemployment with no end in sight. The Government has well and truly clobbered the recovery and now more families face Christmas without a job than at any time since the early 1990s.

“As every month passes, it is getting clearer and clearer that the Government’s welfare to work programmes are simply failing. The lowest amount of people are coming off benefits and into work than at any time since 1998.

“The result is now a soaring welfare bill that is creating an almighty hangover for Britain to deal with. The Government is now set to borrow £158 billion more than planned - more than £6,500 for every household in the country. This isn’t borrowing to support the economy through difficult times, but a huge new bill for failure.

“In the last quarter, for every 13 jobs lost in the public sector, just one was created in the private sector. Quite simply we’re losing jobs faster than we’re creating them. Eighteen months after they were elected the Government’s complacency is staggering. Their economic policies are failing and Britain desperately needs a plan that works.”

Martina Milburn, chief executive of youth charity The Prince’s Trust, said: “Too many young lives are being wasted in the dole queue. It is frightening to think that more than two-fifths of unemployed young people have been jobless for more than six months.

“Long-term unemployed young people are the most vulnerable, with many trapped in a vicious cycle of joblessness, anxiety and depression. Government, charities and employers must work together now to help these young people escape a long and downward spiral.”

Andrew Sissons, researcher at The Work Foundation, said: “The labour market is on a dangerous trajectory, as today’s numbers confirm that our private sector recovery has stalled. Businesses are suffering from an acute lack of confidence, which makes it very hard for them to create jobs. The Eurozone crisis also makes it impossible for companies to plan for the long-term, while consumers at home appear to be cutting back their spending.

“Most worrying is the prospect of unemployment remaining high for years to come. Persistently high unemployment will worsen the already serious problem of long-term unemployment.”

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The worsening of the UK labour market is not as bad as many feared, given the worrying economic news at home and developments in the eurozone.

“With job losses in the public sector likely to continue, every effort must be made to help the private sector create more jobs. Cutting red tape and making it easier for people to acquire the right skills for the work place are vital, but this is not enough. The MPC must persevere with an aggressive QE programme and the Government must act quickly to implement the credit-easing measures announced in the Autumn statement.

“Our recent forecast predicts that total UK unemployment is likely to increase to 2.77 million or 8.7% of the workforce by the end of 2012.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters at a daily Westminster briefing: “Obviously the figures show an unwelcome increase in unemployment, but they also show some signs that the labour market is stabilising.

“Clearly, firms’ decisions on whether to hire new people are being affected by the general economic outlook and in particular by what is happening in the eurozone.”

On OECD measures, Britain’s unemployment rate of 8.3% compared favourably to the 8.6% in the US and 9.8% in the EU, and the Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting that there will be 500,000 more people in jobs by 2015, said the spokesman.

“Clearly, we have had a deeper recession than many other countries, but the fact that our unemployment rate remains below the rate we see in other countries reflects the fact that we have a flexible labour market in this country.

“We have undertaken some of the structural reforms of our labour market which mean that we have seen wages and hours of work adjust, rather than seeing it come through in higher unemployment.”

The spokesman said youth unemployment had been rising since 2004 - well before the downturn - indicating “structural problems that need to be addressed”, including ensuring that school-leavers have the skills they need to find work.