By Daniel Hunter
Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, has questioned if the rise in unemployment is a short-term blip or a sign of things to come.
Official figures have shown that UK unemployment rose by 70,000 to 2.56 million between December and February.
The Office for National Statistics's (ONS) data means that the unemployment rate for the quarter was 7.9%.
“This month’s figures have seen the recent period of sustained employment growth come to an end," Beatson said.
"The number of people in employment is very marginally down on the previous three month period, with full-time employment increasing but part-time employment falling.
"At the same time, with the population increasing and economic inactivity continuing to fall — which in itself is not a bad thing — this has led to a quite substantial increase in unemployment, up by 70,000 on the previous three month period.
“The question is whether this is a short term blip or whether a lack of demand means that the economy will struggle to create more jobs. Recent forward-looking indicators of recruitment intentions, including the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook, remain positive.
"Nor have we seen any significant change in the number of redundancies. Hence, at this stage, it would be unwise to read too much into a single month’s figures.
"Nevertheless, the statistics do remind us that jobs cannot be created forever without a growing economy to sustain demand. And it is certainly not a question of people pricing themselves out of jobs, as wages excluding bonuses are now growing by just 1 per cent a year, the lowest figure since this data started to be collected in 2001.”
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