Jobs market weak as February sees claimant count continue to rise

The UK jobs market weakened in February as the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 14,600, according to official figures.

The claimant count level for last month was 919,700 – up 102,000 year-on-year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The monthly increase was the largest since December 1992, when the UK was coming out of recession, but at 2.9%, the unemployment rate is still close to its lowest level since 1975.

The claimant count has increased by an average of 5,900 a month over the last three months

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said a fall in employment and an increase in the number of economically inactive people who want to work, pointed to an easing in the demand for labour.

“There is a glimmer of hope in that job vacancies seem to be recovering,” he said. “However, it appears from the figures that employers have been making greater use of self-employed and temporary staff rather than permanent employees in recent months, which may suggest considerable uncertainty about economic prospects,” he said.

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