By Claire West

UK unemployment has risen for the first time in two years, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics today.

The ONS have said that 1.85 million people were unemployed in the March-to-May period, which is up 15,000 from January to March of this year.

Their data revealed however that the pace of pay rises continued to pick up and when comparing March to May 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 3.2% including bonuses and by 2.8% excluding bonuses.

James Sproule, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Today’s slight increase in the unemployment rate may have surprised economists and spooked policymakers, but there is more good news than bad in these latest figures. Over the last few years, businesses have powered the recovery and created jobs at a record pace. Unemployment is now much lower than many expected, and people are moving from self-employment to full-time jobs at a healthy rate.

“As the economy strengthens, businesses are feeling more confident, and people are shifting into full-time work. For people who could only find part-time work or work for themselves in recent years, this is good news.

“Wages, stagnant for so long in the aftermath of the crisis, appear to have well and truly turned a corner, and real wage growth has naturally accelerated. With labour markets remaining tight, wages look set to continue growing through 2015. The key, however, is to ensure these wage rises are driven by corporate performance and productivity gains.”