Unemployment soars to 17-year high
Unemployment has reached a 17-year high of more than 2.5 million and youth joblessness is at record levels, new figures have revealed.
The jobless total jumped by 27,000 in the three months to January to 2.53 million, the worst figure since 1994, while the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work increased by 30,000 to 974,000, the highest since records began in 1992.
The unemployment rate for young people rose by 0.8% to 20.6%, also a record high.
The number of people classed as economically inactive also increased - up by 43,000 to 9.33 million, including 2.3 million looking after a family.
The total claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 10,200 last month to 1.45 million, the biggest reduction since last June.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that male claimants fell by 17,500 - the 13th consecutive monthly fall - while female claimants increased by 7,300 - the eighth monthly rise in a row.
Other data revealed that the number of over-65s in work increased by 56,000 in the latest quarter to reach 900,000, the highest since records began in 1992. There was also a record number of 50 to 64-year-olds in work - up by 25,000 to 7.3 million.
Meanwhile, the number of people in work increased by 32,000 to 29.16 million, the highest figure since last autumn.
There were almost half a million job vacancies in the three months to February, up by 24,000 over the previous quarter, although that figure included 29,000 temporary jobs for this year's census.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "There's been a welcome drop in the number of people on benefits, and the increase in full-time private sector jobs is a step in the right direction. But the rise in overall unemployment is a real concern and underlines the need to press ahead with policies which will further stimulate growth in the private sector."