By Maximilian Clarke

Unemployment in the UK has climbed by a further 48,000 over the past quarter, reaching a high of 2.67 million unseen since 1995.

“We are now looking at the most competitive job market the UK has seen since the days of Margaret Thatcher,” commented Scott Liversidge, managing partner at Flame Health. “With a candidate pool so large, the onus now lies with the individuals, not the companies to make themselves stand out in any way they can. Nothing is going to change overnight in terms of unemployment but these figures will surely push the government to look at ways to incentivise the private sector into creating more jobs.”

Pay growth reached 2.0%- a climb of 0.1% over Q4 2011, though this figure remains drawfed by inflation, corresponding to a decline in disposable income.

There were 1.60 million people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in January 2012, up 6,900 on December 2011. The number of men claiming JSA increased by 5,400 on the month to reach 1.07 million and the number of women claiming JSA increased by 1,500 on the month to reach 531,700 — the highest figure since July 1995.

The unemployment rate climbed a further 0.1% to reach 8.4%- the highest since November 1995. The total number of unemployed people increased by 48,000 over the quarter to reach 2.67 million. This was the smallest quarterly increase in unemployment since the three months to June 2011. The number of unemployed people aged from 16 to 24 increased by 22,000 over the quarter to reach 1.04 million; this figure includes 307,000 people in full-time education who were looking for work.

“The only positive indicator in the jobs market at the moment lies in the ‘Report on jobs’ compiled by the REC and KPMG,” continued Liversidge. “The research has shown that the number of permanent job placements has risen for the first time in four months which is encouraging. Unemployment, as we see from the figures today, still remains far too high in the UK however, there are still sectors creating jobs.

“Healthcare, clerical, IT and engineering & construction are just some of these. We have placed the same amount of candidates in permanent roles this January as we did last year which is further evidence that there is no slowdown in vacancies in the healthcare sector.”

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