Unemployment hits 17-year high – record number of young people out of work

Unemployment in the UK is at its highest for 17 years, the unemployment rate is the highest for 15 years, and youth unemployment is at a record high.

The jobless total rose 114,000 in the three months to August to 2.57 million, with the unemployment rate, as Graph 1 shows, hitting 8.1 per cent – up 0.4 percentage points on the quarter.

Graph 1:
The claimant count, meanwhile, rose 17,500 month-on-month, to hit 1.6 million, as Graph 2 shows. On the JSA count there is a glimmer of hope, however – the number of those claiming for more than six months fell 9,100 to below one million.

Graph 2:

It is the figures on youth unemployment, however, that present the grimmest picture of all: the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 21.3% in the three months to August, up 1.6 points from the three months to May 2011, as Graph 3 shows.

There were 991,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds in the three months to August 2011, up 74,000 from the three months to May 2011.

Graph 3:

As the ONS release (pdf) notes:

“The unemployment level and rate for people aged from 16 to 24 are the highest since comparable records began in 1992.”

The figures are likely to get much worse before they get better – sluggish growth, and the lack of pick up in the private sector have not been anything like enough to offset the huge job cuts in the public sector. And the current figures do not even include the BAe redundancies and the public sector job cuts that are yet to come on stream – the trend will continue.

Economist Alan Clarke told Sky News this morning the government was merely “tinkering at the margins”, and that the economy was “growing at half the rate” it needed to be growing at, adding:

“Unemployment will go up before it goes down, it’s gonna feel a lot worse now than it did a few years ago… The private sector was never going to offset the jobs lost in the public sector.”

He also told the BBC:

“The data shouldn’t come as a surprise because the economy is growing at half the pace it needs to keep unemployment stable. That’s not going to change anytime soon, so we should get used to numbers like this.”

We will have more reaction and analysis of today’s labour market stats later this afternoon.

See also:

Commons to vote today on Labour’s five-point plan for jobsShamik Das, October 12th 2011

If Osborne gives up the lead on climate change, he can kiss goodbye to a recoveryAndrew Pendleton, October 10th 2011

One-club Osborne drives economy further into the roughWillie Bain MP, October 6th 2011

Coalition manufactur​ing policy shot to piecesTony Burke, September 30th 2011

Evolve or die: Innovative SMEs are the key to UK growthEmily Thomas, September 27th 2011

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