'Crisis' as jobless total grows
The UK is in the middle of a "full-blown jobs crisis", unions have warned after unemployment reached a 17-year high and the number of young people out of work reached a record level.
The figure jumped by 118,000 to 2.68 million in the three months to November, the worst since the summer of 1994, giving the UK a jobless rate of 8.4%.
The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 52,000 over the quarter to 1.04 million, the highest since records began in 1992, while the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in December increased by 1,200 to 1.6 million, the highest for a year after the 10th consecutive monthly rise.
Banking giant Lloyds added to the gloom by giving details of 700 job losses across the UK, part of 15,000 cuts announced in June in a strategic review of the business.
Research by the TUC revealed that more than 30 people were chasing every job vacancy in Lewisham, south east London, with more than 20 in other parts of the country.
General secretary Brendan Barber said: "The fear is now that mass joblessness becomes a permanent scar on the UK, with unemployment rising by 1,300 a day towards the end of last year. We are in the midst of a full-blown jobs crisis that is causing misery for millions and ruining any chance of an economic recovery."
Martina Milburn, chief executive of youth charity the Prince's Trust, said: "Britain's jobless generation are losing hope for the future."
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, David Cameron highlighted positive aspects in the figures, saying: "Any increase in unemployment is disappointing and it is obviously a tragedy for the person who becomes unemployed.
"It is noteworthy that, while the increase in unemployment is hugely unwelcome, there is still an increase in the number of people employed. It is also noteworthy... that there is a small decrease in long-term unemployment. There is not an ounce of complacency in this Government. We will do everything we can to get people back to work."
The Prime Minister clashed with Labour leader Ed Miliband, who said: "The defining characteristic of this Government is it does nothing as thousands of people find themselves unemployed."