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Jobless rise 'is disappointing'

Chancellor George Osborne has admitted that official figures revealing a rise in unemployment are "disappointing" but insisted they are not "entirely unexpected".

The country's jobless rate stood at 2.49 million, or 7.9%, between April and June, the Office for National Statistics said, after the total number of unemployed increased by 38,000.

The increase was the largest since May 2009 and the first since January, while economists had expected a fall of around 10,000.

Within the figures, the number of unemployed women hit levels not seen in more than 23 years, while youth unemployment covering the ages between 16 and 24 moved closer to the politically sensitive one million marker at 949,000 or 20.2%, up 0.2% from the three months to March.

Elsewhere, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) showed the biggest monthly rise in more than two years, increasing by 37,100 to 1.56 million people.

The figures prompted calls for the Chancellor to reconsider his tough programme of public sector spending cuts - which includes hundreds of thousands of job losses across the UK.

Mr Osborne is banking on a healthy private sector to pick up the slack in the economy but recent figures showing sluggish 0.2% growth in the second quarter have raised fears over the strength of the recovery.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public service trade union Unison, said the Government's "savage" cuts have ended opportunities in the public sector and the private sector is struggling to withstand the economic downturn.

He said: "The Government's economic strategy is in tatters. They need to stop the cuts and restore hope by planning for growth."

Stephen Timms, Labour's shadow employment minister said the Government was creating a vicious circle by cutting "too far and too fast".


From Belfast Telegraph