Job market set to get 'much worse'
The prospects of finding a job are likely to get "much worse" in the face of fresh cuts in public spending this year, union leaders have warned ahead of new unemployment figures.
The TUC said "mass redundancies" in the NHS, local authorities and other parts of the public sector will have a "devastating" impact on local economies.
With forecasts of more than 700,000 jobs set to be axed by the end of 2017, the TUC said it will be even harder for the unemployed to get back into the labour market.
The union organisation predicted that Northern Ireland and the North East were among the areas of the UK which will be hardest hit by job losses in the public sector.
Northern Ireland is likely to see almost 26,000 jobs cut, 3.2% of the total in the region, while the North East will suffer a 2.9% reduction in employment as 32,600 jobs are slashed, said the TUC.
The South East and East of England will be the least affected, both seeing a 1.9% fall in public sector jobs, according to the prediction.
The report was published ahead of new unemployment figures, which analysts expect will show another rise from last month's figure of 2.6 million.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Tomorrow's figures are unlikely to bring good news. For the 2.6 million people currently without work, their prospects of finding a job look ever harder, and with thousands of jobs set to go across our public services while private sector job creation stagnates, the picture is set to get much, much worse.
"Apart from the huge effect that the job cuts will have upon the provision of public services across the UK, mass redundancies across the public sector are bad news for our struggling economy, and will have a devastating impact upon local high streets, as newly unemployed public sector workers simply stop spending.
"The Government needs to devote much more time and energy towards solving our growing jobs crisis. Instead it's making the problem worse, cutting jobs in the public sector and failing to secure growth to protect private sector employees."