Young people and women hardest hit as jobs crisis fuels fears of ‘lost generation’ in region

Mary Creagh.
Mary Creagh.
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THE UK jobs crisis has deepened with unemployment rates for women and young people rocketing to record levels.

Overall unemployment is at its highest for 16-years, women’s unemployment has hit a level not seen for more than 20 years, and fears have been raised of a “lost generation in Yorkshire” as figures for the region showed huge increases in the numbers of 18 to 24-year-olds now classed as long term unemployed – those who have claimed job seekers allowance for six months or more.

Wakefield saw a 327 per cent rise compared with this time last year while in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford the increase was 315 per cent. Harrogate, Pudsey, Bradford and Dewsbury all saw increases of more than 200 per cent in 12 months.

Despite the bleak news – overall jobseeker’s allowance claimants increased for the 11th month in a row – the Government said the unemployment figures yesterday showed the labour market “was stabilising” despite continuing economic challenges.

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: “The latest figures show some encouraging signs of stability despite the challenging economic climate.”

Thomson Airways added to the gloom by starting to consult staff over redundancies, raising the prospect of hundreds of job losses, although Virgin Atlantic provided some good news by launch- ing a recruitment drive for 500 cabin crew under plans to expand its network and fleet for 2012.

Labour MP for Wakefield Mary Creagh said the Government’s economic plan was having a “disastrous effect” on Yorkshire.

“There has been an increase in long term youth unemployment in my constituency of over 300 per cent,” she said.

“That is absolutely disgraceful. David Cameron and George Osborne continue to show they are completely out of touch with

the catastrophic impact their failing plan is having, especially in regions like Yorkshire.”

Unemployment jumped by 48,000 in the quarter to December to 2.67 million, a jobless rate of 8.4 per cent. It is the worst figure since the end of 1995, although the smallest quarterly rise since last summer, the Office for National Statistics reported.

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants rose by 6,900 in January to 1.6 million, the 11th consecutive monthly increase, while women claiming the allowance increased by 1,500 last month to 531,700, the highest figure since the summer of 1995.

A record number of people are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs – up by 83,000 over the latest quarter to 1.35 million.

Employment increased by 60,000 to 29 million, mainly due to a rise of 90,000 in the number of part-time employees to 6.6 million.

Other data showed a 22,000 increase in youth unemployment to 1.04 million, which includes 307,000 in full-time education who were looking for work.

Economic inactivity, which includes students, long-term sick, people who have retired early or those who have given up looking for work, fell by 78,000 to 9.29 million. Around 164,000 workers were made redundant or took voluntary redundancy in the final quarter of last year, up by 17,000 from the three months to September.

John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The unemployment situation continues to be very worrying, especially for young people but it’s positive that jobs are being created in the private sector. This month’s data confirms the tentative signs we saw last month of a recovery in private sector hiring.”

Martina Milburn, chief executive of youth charity The Prince’s Trust, said: “Young people are facing the bleakest jobs market for decades, which is crushing self-esteem and derailing ambition.

“We need to act now to ensure an unemployed generation does not become an unemployable one.”