By Jason Theodorou

The number of people unemployed in the UK increased by 23,000 to 2.47 million during the three months leading up to April, according to official figures. Unemployment was up to 7.9%, from 7.8% in the quarter to January.

The number of people classed as 'economically inactive' reached over eight million, a record high that represents 21.5% of the population at working age.

Despite the increase in unemployment, the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 1.48 million, and the number of people in employment rose by 5,000 to 28.6 million.

Unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds rose by 11,000 to 926,000. The number of people out of work for over a year increased by 85,000 to 772,000 in the three months to April.

Long-term unemployment and youth unemployment both saw an increase. The number of people on long-term sick leave rose to 2.07 million.

There was also an increase in part-time workers, with this figure rising by 61,000. The number of full time workers fell by 56,000. Many workers are taking part-time roles because they cannot find a full-time role, with 1.08 million workers in this position - a record high.

Average pay increased by 4.2% in the year to April, a decrease of 0.1% compared to March. Average pay was £428 a week in April, an increase of 1.9% on the previous year.

Public sector employment fell by 7,000 in March to 6.09 million, while the private sector showing significant gains with 12,000 workers taking the total number of employees to 22.78 million.

Redundancy increased significantly, with 173,000 people made redundant in the three months leading up to April - up by 6,000 since the quarter to January.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: 'These figures underline why it was so important to stop the jobs tax planned by the previous government, and why we need to create real incentives for businesses to grow and create job opportunities'.

Grayling also said it was crucial to ensure that people on benefits were given the help and support they needed to 'take advantage of employment opportunities and make the move into work'.

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