Growth in unemployment continues to slow

Nearly 2.5 million people are out of work, the final unemployment figures of the year have shown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today revealed that there were 2.49 million people unemployed in the three months to October, up only 21,000 from the previous quarter, and up 608,000 from a year earlier.

The unemployment rate stands at 7.9% over the three months, unchanged on the previous quarter but up 1.9 percentage points from a year earlier.

Youth unemployment continues to worsen, as the number of 18- to 24-year-olds out of work rose to 757,000 in the three months to October 2009 – up 26,000 from the three months to July 2009. An additional 175,000 16- to 17-year-olds were out of work in the three months to October, bringing the total number of young people out of work (932,000) closer to the one million mark.

Yesterday the government announced measures to tackle youth unemployment, including 100,000 new jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities for under-25s. The employment White Paper Building Britain’s Recovery, said the government had adapted the jobs guarantee scheme to enable anyone under the age of 25 to be guaranteed a job, training or work experience after six months’ unemployment.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The UK’s flexible labour market has helped keep the jobless total during the recession lower than many had feared. This white paper recognises that and offers some useful approaches to getting more people back into work. We particularly welcome the ‘Back to Work’ guarantee. People who accept an offer of work should not be worse off than those who choose to reject it.”

Meanwhile, the ONS figures also revealed the claimant count had fallen by 6,300 to 1.63 million in November 2009, but this was still up 534,700 year-on-year.

Average earnings continued to show a divide across the public and private sectors. Public sector workers were offered a 2.7% rise excluding bonuses, down 0.1 percentage points, while private sector workers got a 1.4% rise, excluding bonuses, unchanged from the previous quarter.

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