Jobless rate 'higher than in 2008'
Unemployment rates are higher than before the recession, with some areas having 100,000 more people out of work than in the run up to the economic slump in 2008, according to a new study.
The TUC said half a million more people were jobless in the first quarter of the year compared to the same three months six years ago.
Yorkshire and Humberside had the biggest gap at 100,000, while the biggest difference in the unemployment rate is in Northern Ireland at 6.9% now compared with 4.1% in 2008.
The TUC said the research, published ahead of the latest unemployment figures on Wednesday, suggested that the economy was less healthy than before the recession.
The biggest unemployment gap is among young people with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds 167,000 higher. The only areas with lower levels are the East Midlands, among younger people, and Wales, among 35 to 49-year-olds, said the TUC. The number of unemployed people across the UK is "far in excess" of pre-recession levels, said the union organisation.
General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The recent upturn in the economy has prompted lots of speculation about an increase in interest rates. Those hawks that are keen for interest rates to rise have forgotten that unemployment is still over two million.
"In some parts of the UK, unemployment is 50% higher than it was before the recession. The talk in the City and around Westminster may be about a fast growing economy but the recovery still feels a good way off for millions of people still desperate for work across the rest of the country.
"The Government should be doing more to get unemployment down in every part of the UK. High levels of youth joblessness are particularly concerning. The growing talk of an interest rise is a worrying distraction from this far bigger economic and social problem."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The truth is that with the economy growing again we are now seeing record numbers of people getting jobs thanks to the Government's long-term economic plan.
"Unemployment has just seen the biggest annual fall in 16 years and the unemployment rate is at a new five year low.
"There is still more to do, but it should be welcomed that more people are in work than ever before and thousands of people are getting jobs every single day."