Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 185,000 people were unemployed in the region between March and May, an increase of 18,000. Nationally, figures rose by 15,000 to reach a total of 1.85m.
Yorkshire’s unemployment rate now stands at 6.9 per cent, second only to the North East region at 7.7 per cent and comfortably above the national average of 5.6 per cent.
Barnsley Central’s Labour MP Dan Jarvis described the rise in Yorkshire as “extremely concerning”. He said: “These figures are a stern reminder that much more needs to be done to ensure that the benefits of economic recovery are reaching every region across the country.
“Labour have repeatedly urged the government to increase the number of apprenticeships to build a highly skilled workforce, but ministers failed to act and last year the number of young people starting an apprenticeship fell.”
Prime Minister David Cameron admitted he was “disappointed” by the increase but added that long-term unemployment was still falling and wages were far outstripping inflation.
He said: “There are mixed messages in these figures. It is disappointing that the claimant count has gone up having fallen for so many months in a row and still being at the lowest level since 1975.
“But long term unemployment is down, youth unemployment is down, the rate of employment for women is at a new record high.
“And interestingly when you look across the last year you can actually see that all of the rise in employment in the last year has been people working full time.”
Regional investment agencies said the longer term general downward trend in unemployment still gave cause for optimism.
James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Whilst unemployment figures across the wider Yorkshire and Humber region in the last few months have increased, the long term trend across the Yorkshire and Humber region is still for stronger growth, with 25,000 fewer people unemployed compared to this time last year.”
The chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Roger Marsh, said: “Whilst at first glance today’s unemployment figures are cause for concern, the number of people in employment in Yorkshire and Humber is 17,000 higher than a year ago, and other figures published today show that the number of people claiming job seekers allowance in Leeds City Region has fallen to its lowest level since 2008.
“Whilst this is pleasing, we are not complacent and know there is still much to do to offer more and better jobs for people in Leeds City Region and support ambitious growing businesses to create new work opportunities.”
The national figures showed pay rises continued to accelerate, with average weekly earnings up by 3.2 per cent year-on-year in the three months to May, up from 2.7 per cent in the three months to April. It is the strongest rate since April 2010 and with inflation hovering at around zero, real terms pay is improving at a rate not seen for nearly eight years.
Some analysts suggest the increase in unemployment could be a “blip” reflecting business uncertainty in the run-up to the general election. It may also be linked to weaker-than-expected economic growth at the start of 2015.