Employment boost urged as jobless total unexpectedly grows
The government has been urged to adopt a new approach to helping people into work after an unexpected increase in unemployment.
Owen Smith, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "This growth in unemployment is worrying, as over 20,000 more people are now looking for work. This comes on top of sluggish earnings growth, as working people make their way through a Tory decade of record low pay.
"At this time the very last thing the Tories should be doing is cutting in-work support to low and middle paid workers. Yet that is exactly what Stephen Crabb did last week by introducing Universal Credit cuts that will leave two million working families an average of £1,600 a year worse off."
Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Employment remains at a record high but jobs growth appears to have stalled in recent months. A new approach is needed to bring fresh impetus and get employment rising again."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "While it's good that employment is rising, albeit more slowly, wage growth remains anaemic.
"With worries about the strength of the global economy, the Government cannot just sit idly by and hope things get better.
"Ministers need to play an active role and invest in skills, infrastructure and public services to create better jobs and a more balanced economy."
Dr Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Businesses are facing a growing skills shortage that poses a genuine threat to future productivity and growth. Unemployment is low by historic standards and our own survey work confirms that the percentage of firms reporting recruitment difficulties is close to an historic high, with firms facing a real struggle to find staff with the right skills."
James Sproule, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: " The UK economy continues to power ahead, with the rise in employment and unemployment showing that employment is buoyant enough to attract the long-term inactive back into the job market.
"Getting people who have fallen out of the labour market looking for work again, combined with migrants bringing their skills here, is a key part of the UK's continued economic expansion."
Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The unemployment rate remains at a historically low level, but for the first time in over a year we are beginning to see the number of people out of work creep back up.
"The slowdown in wage growth should also be seen as a warning sign that businesses are looking to contain costs amid a challenging policy environment."
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The disappointing rise in the jobless figures shows that key sections of the population are being hit when it comes to jobs, particularly young people whose jobless rate remains stubbornly high at 627,000.
"George Osborne has spent far too much time mollycoddling the 1% of the rich and wealthy living in a Downton Abbey time warp and not enough on the 99% of the population trying to make ends meet and paying their taxes on time."