Belfast Telegraph

'Troubled times ahead' as UK jobless hits 2.5m

The Prime Minister admitted he was concerned about unemployment as the Government received grim pre-Christmas jobs news, including a near-record number of young people out of work.

The jobless total jumped by 35,000 in the quarter to October to 2.5m, a rate of 7.9%, the highest since the start of the year.

The numbers out of work for over 12 months rose by 41,000 to 839,000, the worst figure since 1997.

In Northern Ireland, unemployment rose for a ninth successive quarter to a rate of 7.6% of the working population. Last month the number of unemployment benefit claimants went up by 100 to 58,500.

But with the UK jobless total going up, union leaders have warned of "troubled times" ahead across the UK, especially with huge job losses expected in the public sector, while another analyst said the data offered "no joy and very little comfort".

David Cameron told the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions: "Of course anyone should be concerned, and I am concerned by a rise in unemployment.

"We have got to get the private sector going, increase the number of jobs that are available.

"Over the last six months, we have seen 300,000 new private sector jobs. We need more of them, and keeping the economy out of the danger zone is the way to get them."

Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of complacency on jobs, saying he seemed to be trying to "paint himself as an innocent bystander".

The Office for National Statistics reported that the number of 16 to 24 year olds out of work had increased by 28,000 to 943,000, one of the highest figures since records began in 1992, giving a youth jobless rate of 19.8%. Male unemployment increased by 11,000 to 1.46m, while the number of women out of work rose by 24,000 to 1.04m, the highest total since 1988.

There was also a rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive, including people looking after a sick relative, students or those who have given up looking for a job, up by 22,000 to 9.29m, a rate of 23.2%.

The category showing the biggest increase was those who have taken early retirement, which figures show has risen by 27,000 to 1.53m.

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