Youth jobless total soars towards 1m
Youth unemployment has edged closer to a million in the UK, new figures showed today.
The latest statistics show that the overall jobless figure in Northern Ireland stood at 59,000 in March – a rise of 100 on the previous month.
A Labour Force Survey shows the unemployment rate for 18 to 24-year-olds here is 20.3%.
The unemployment total fell by 17,000 nationally in the quarter to February to 2.48 million, the first cut since last autumn, but the numbers claiming job-related benefits rose. The claimant count increased by 700 last month to 1.45 million, including 462,300 women, the highest figure since October 1996.
The number of jobless 18 to 24-year-olds increased by 12,000 over the quarter to 963,000, while the total for 16- and 17-year-olds increased by 14,000 to 218,000, the highest since records began in 1992. Today's data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the number of unemployed men fell by 31,000 to 1.45 million and increased by 14,000 for women to just over a million.
Changes to benefit rules have seen women switching from income support to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) over the past two months. The number of female claimants has now increased for nine months in a row and fallen for men for 14 consecutive months.
Employment has increased, showing a 143,000 rise to 29.23 million, although the figure is still 331,000 below the pre-recession peak reached in May 2008.
The latest increase was driven by full-time employment which rose by 140,000, the biggest rise in this group for four years.
The number of people classed as economically inactive fell by 71,000 to 9.3 million following a 48,000 reduction in those listed as having a long-term illness.
Public sector employment fell by 45,000 to 6.2 million over the final quarter of 2010, while workers in private firms increased by 77,000 to just under 23 million.
Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to February, down by 0.3% on the previous month, driven by falls in private companies.
Average pay was £448 a week in February.
There were 482,000 vacancies across the UK in the three months to March, up by 16,000 over the year, with the rise due to temporary jobs for this year's Census.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The Government, which itself has cut over 220,000 public sector jobs, is devoid of any understanding of the misery it is creating in not dealing with unemployment as the number one priority.
“The Government is ignoring the costs of the social breakdown that is a consequence of mass youth unemployment. The electorate needs to use the May 5 elections as a referendum to reject the economic and social policies of this Government. The message needs to be sent that it is not possible to deflate your way to growth and a balanced budget.”
John Salt, director of recruitment website Totaljobs.com, said: “The small drop in unemployment will come as a welcome surprise to the coalition, which is facing a drubbing in local elections in May.
“The small fall adds credence to their belief that the private sector is able to offset cuts to the public sector, which is now beginning to shed staff in earnest. A particularly good sign is that the IT and sales sectors are seeing jobs growth, which demonstrates that companies are investing in staff now in the expectation of healthy growth in the near future.”