Belfast Telegraph

Jobless total rises to 1.66m despite employment hitting record 32m

Unemployment has increased even though the number of people in work is at record levels, new figures have shown.

The jobless total rose by 10,000 in the quarter to August to 1.66 million, the first jump since the turn of the year.

The claimant count, including those on Jobseeker's Allowance, also increased last month - up by 700 to 776,400. It was the sixth time in the last seven months that the figure has increased.

But employment was up by 106,000 in the latest quarter to almost 32 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said its data also showed a 65,000 fall in the number of people classed as economically active, down to a joint record low rate of 21.5%, or 8.8 million.

The figure includes people on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or those who have given up looking for a job.

The ONS noted that the statistics cover two months after the European Union referendum result.

Average earnings increased by 2.3% in the year to August, down by 0.1% on the previous month.

ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: "These figures show that employment continued to grow over the summer and vacancies remain at high levels, suggesting continuing confidence in the economy.

"While there was also a small rise in the headline unemployment level, that was accompanied by more people actively seeking work."

Unemployment is 118,000 lower than a year ago despite Wednesday's rise, which was the first since the quarter to February, giving a jobless rate of 4.9%.

The latest increase was due to a 23,000 rise in unemployed women, compared with a 12,000 fall among men.

There were 34.4 million jobs in June - half a million more than the previous year.

A comparison of jobs between 1978 and June revealed that the proportion accounted for by manufacturing, mining and quarrying fell from 26% to 8%, while in the services sector it leapt from 63% to 83%.

There were 5,000 working days lost from nine stoppages in August, with 1,000 people taking strike action, the joint lowest figure since records began in 1986.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: "Once again it's great news for Britain as the employment rate remains at a record high, with more than 31.8 million men and women in work.

"But there's more to do, particularly when it comes to supporting young people into employment.

"We want to build a solid base for the future; that's why today I have announced the rollout of our Jobcentre Plus Support for Schools scheme in England, which will give tens of thousands of young people help in taking their first steps into the world of work."

Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "The decline in unemployment in Wales has outperformed the rest of the UK for the seventh consecutive month.

"We have big ambitions for Wales and its economy and will continue to work hard to support business and ensure the economic conditions to create and safeguard sustainable jobs and training.

"That is why we are investing £111 million next year to fund our all-age apprenticeship and traineeships programme, to meet our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeship places over the lifetime of this Government."