By Lea Pachta

The ONS Labour Market Statistics report published today has revealed that the UK now has 2.47 million unemployed people.

Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, says;

”Young people are bearing the brunt of the rise in unemployment. The unemployment rate for 16-17 year olds now stands at 33 per cent and the rate for 18-24 year olds is 17.7 per cent. By contrast, the rate for 25-49 year olds is much lower at 6.3 per cent. However, more than a quarter of young people counted as unemployed are in fact in some form of full-time education or training. The introduction of student loans and tuition fees has greatly increased the numbers of students in work and looking for work, and this group is a larger component of youth unemployment than in previous recessions.”

“The rise in the number of young people unemployed for over six months is particularly marked in the latest figures. This remains the crucial policy challenge for this and any future government.”

“The latest Conservative proposals to compel the long-term unemployed into community-based activities will not be sufficient to solve the problem. International evidence shows that job-seekers rarely access useful labour market skills and experience through such schemes. Most long-term unemployed people are held back by a lack of opportunities rather than a lack of desire to work. The most disadvantaged in the labour market fare disproportionately badly in a recession, and what the long term unemployed need most, therefore, is more, real job opportunities, and this requires continued demand stimulus to the economy.”

“The number of vacancies has edged upwards for the third month, suggesting a tentative return to business confidence in some sectors, including manufacturing and finance that were particularly badly hit in the downturn. Redundancies are also down this month. If these trends continue, it is possible that the labour market will be spared the full degree of battering it received in the recessions of the 80s and 90s. For the time being, however, the number of people lucky enough to be in work but unable to find a permanent or full-time job continues to rise, and the prospect of wholesale improvements in the labour market remains some way off. The eventual upturn in employment, when it comes, is likely to be slow and gradual, as there is spare capacity in the private sector, and job cuts in the public sector will start to kick in from next year.”