The number of people out of work and looking for a job has risen for the second month in a row, according to the latest unemployment figures.
Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that unemployment increased by 25,000 in the three months leading up to June, to reach 1.85 million.
The unemployment rate was 5.6%, little changed compared with January to March 2015 but lower than for a year earlier (6.3%).
There has also been a drop in the number of people in work, falling by 63,000 to 31.03 million. However, the employment rate remains 354,000 higher than for the same period in 2014 and currently stands at 73.4%.
ONS figures also reveal that 8.99 million people between the ages of 16 to 64 were ‘economically inactive’. This refers to those people who are not working and not seeking or available to work.
Key findings from the ONS include:
- There were 31.03 million people in work, 63,000 fewer than for January to March 2015 but 354,000 more than for a year earlier.
- There were 22.76 million people working full-time, 352,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.27 million people working part-time, little changed compared with a year earlier.
- The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 73.4%, little changed compared with January to March 2015 but higher than for a year earlier (72.8%).
- There were 1.85 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 25,000 more than for January to March 2015 but 221,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
- There were 1.01 million unemployed men, 130,000 fewer than for a year earlier. There were 838,000 unemployed women, 92,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
- The unemployment rate was 5.6%, little changed compared with January to March 2015 but lower than for a year earlier (6.3%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force (those in work plus those unemployed) who were unemployed.
- There were 8.99 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), little changed compared with January to March 2015 and with a year earlier.
- The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 22.1%, little changed compared with January to March 2015 and with a year earlier.
- Comparing April to June 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 2.4% including bonuses and by 2.8% excluding bonuses.
DWP minister Justin Tomlinson blamed Labour and the SNP for the rise in unemployment. Speaking to Sky News, Mr Tomlinson said:
“What we are seeing is that during that election period – and I know as a former businessperson myself – it’s not unreasonable when you’ve got an SNP-Labour anti-business agenda ahead in the polls that businesses pause.”
Commenting on the publication of new unemployment figures, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Timms said: “The rise in unemployment for a second month in a row is worrying and shows we cannot afford to be complacent about the recovery.
“With productivity stagnating, David Cameron and George Osborne must take bolder action to raise jobseekers’ skill levels to get more back into work and help build the high-skilled workforce Britain needs.”
Mr Timms expressed concern over the rising unemployment among young people. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year-olds has been consistently higher than that for older age groups. For April to June 2015 the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year-olds was 16.0%.
“The rise in youth unemployment highlights a real danger that young people are being left behind”, said Mr Timms.
He added: “Ministers must urgently deliver more high-quality apprenticeships to give young people the skills they need to get a job and build a future.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “For the first time in two years there have been two consecutive monthly rises in the jobless figures. This is the first crack in the edifice of post-election Tory economic triumphalism.
“Outside London and the south east, the benefits of the so-called recovery are not being felt. There is a real issue that most of the jobs being created are in the lower paid sectors and there is a proliferation of those working as self-employed, when they want full-time and permanent jobs.
“Fragility and insecurity in the jobs market are the hallmarks of George Osborne’s economic programme. There is a real fear that the jobs market is levelling off with little in the way of ideas on the creation of decent jobs coming from this government.
“We need ministers to assist with solutions to tackle this continuing climate of insecurity. This will not be achieved by making working lives tougher with the brutal removal of tax credits for low earners.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith defended the government’s record. “Thanks to our long term economic plan we have already seen 2 million more people in jobs since 2010”, he said.
“On top of that, today’s figures show job vacancies at a near record high – evidence of the continued confidence of British businesses, and potential for further growth in the UK economy.
He added: “Our one nation government is helping millions across the country to succeed and achieve their full potential.
“I was particularly pleased to see that wages are continuing to rise – meaning that hardworking people will see a real difference in their pay packets.”
Meanwhile, statistics show that unemployment in Scotland is continuing to fall. The unemployment rate fell by 13,000 between April to June this year.
SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said: “These positive figures are very welcome and come after confirmation that the Scottish economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
“The fall in unemployment of 13,000, compared to an increase across the UK, is the latest indication that the strong action taken by the SNP Scottish government to get people into work and grow our economy is working.
“It is also very encouraging that youth employment continues to increase – reaching a level last seen ten years ago. Getting young people into work, education or training has been a key focus of the SNP government and this will continue as they work towards the ambitious goal of cutting youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021.”
There has also been a 20,000 increase in the number of people in work in Scotland and youth unemployment is at its lowest level since 2008.
Unemployment in Wales fell by 9,000 over the last quarter to reach 90,000, and the employment rate increased by 42,000.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Today’s figures show employment in Wales at a record level as we have outperformed every other part of the UK.
“Over the last year Wales has also outperformed every other part of the UK to record the highest increase in employment rate and the largest decrease in claimant count.”