INDUSTRY Unemployment Dec 15, 2010 11:09:59 AM By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent

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The Government was given some grim pre-Christmas news on jobs today when unemployment increased by 35,000 and the number of young people out of work reached near-record levels.

The jobless total climbed to 2.5 million in the quarter to October, a rate of 7.9%, the highest since the start of the year.

There were 839,000 people unemployed for more than a year, up by 41,000 over the three months and the worst figure since 1997. The Office for National Statistics also reported that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work increased by 28,000 to 943,000, one of the highest figures since records began in 1992, giving a jobless rate of 19.8%.

Male unemployment increased by 11,000 to 1.46 million, while the number of women out of work rose by 24,000 to 1.04 million, the highest total since 1988. There was also a rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive, including people looking after a sick relative, students or those who have given up looking for a job, up by 22,000 to 9.29 million, a rate of 23.2%.

The category showing the biggest increase was those who have taken early retirement, which rose by 27,000 to 1.53 million. The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 46,000 to 1.16 million, a record high. The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 1,200 last month to 1.46 million, although the number claiming for up to six months rose by 11,600 to 954,900.

There were 158,000 redundancies in the latest quarter, up by 15,000, the first rise since April. Employment fell by 33,000 to 29.13 million, giving the first quarterly fall in the rate since April – down by 0.1% to 70.6%. Average earnings increased by 2.2% in the year to October, up by 0.1% from the previous month.

Other figures showed that public sector employment has fallen by 33,000 to just over six million, including 18,000 in local government and 8,000 in the civil service.

Private firms employed 23.11 million workers, unchanged from the summer.

Unemployment in the regions between August and October was:

Region       Total unemployed   Change on quarter Unemployment rate

North East       124,000           plus 6,000      9.7%

North West       279,000           plus 2,000      8.1%

Yorkshire/Humber 244,000           plus 1,000      9.3%

East Midlands    188,000          plus 19,000      8.2%

West Midlands    238,000          plus 12,000      8.9%

East             202,000          minus 2,000      6.7%

London           376,000          minus 4,000      9.1%

South East       276,000           plus 3,000      6.2%

South West       154,000          minus 8,000      5.7%

Wales            125,000           plus 4,000      8.6%

Scotland         234,000          minus 5,000      8.7%

N Ireland         63,000           plus 6,000      7.6%

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “These figures highlight the crucial importance of the action we are taking to keep the economy moving forward. It’s essential to create a stable environment where businesses can flourish and create jobs – with those on benefits at the front of the queue to take them up. “That’s why we are increasing the support available to people through both Jobcentre Plus and our new Work Programme which will revolutionise the way in which we help the long-term unemployed into sustained employment. Only with a successful economy will we be able to finally get Britain working again.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Unemployment increased by 55,000 in October – the sharpest monthly increase since May 2009. “The number of people out of work has passed the grim milestone of 2.5 million before the Government’s austerity measures have even started to take effect. The jobs outlook in the coming years looks increasingly bleak. “The big fall in full-time employment – partly hidden by rising involuntary part-time work – is particularly alarming as these are the kind of jobs we so desperately need to get our economy growing again. “Government support for the unemployed may have ended but our jobs crisis certainly hasn’t.”

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