Economy: UK jobless total hits 17-year high

UNEMPLOYMENT in the UK has hit a 17-year high, official figures revealed yesterday, with the total rising by 128,000 to 2.64million.

The unemployment rate is now 8.3%, up 0.4% on the previous quarter and the highest since 1996, while the jobless total is now worse than at any time since 1994.

The narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance also increased for the ninth consecutive month, rising by 3,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis to 1.6million – its highest since the start of 2010.

Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 54,000 to 1.03million, the most since records began in 1992.

However, there was a mixed picture at local level, where the figures are not adjusted for normal season variations and are therefore more volatile.

Most parts of Suffolk saw an increase in the claimant count with the worst hit areas being Babergh, where the count rose by 52 to 1,227 (an unemployment rate of 2.4%), Forest Heath, up 26 to 853 (2.1%) and Suffolk Coastal, up 11 to 1,446 (2.0%).

In each case, the increase represented a rise in the unemployment rate of 0.1 of a percentage point.

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Smaller increases left the rates unchanged in Ipswich, up 15 to 4,143 (4.9%) and Waveney, up 38 to 2,962 (4.2%).

But the count dipped in both Mid Suffolk, by 14 to 1,203 (2.1%), and St Edmundsbury, down 18 to 1,559 (2.4%), although the rate was unchanged in each case.

It was a similar story in Essex, with the rate rising by 0.1% in Tendring, up 52 to 3,710 (4.4%), and Uttlesford, up 46 to 825 (1.7%), while in Maldon an increase of 10, to 866, left the rate unchanged at 2.2%.

However, rates fell by 0.1% in Colchester, down 52 to 3,337 (2.7%), and Braintree, down 82 to 2,499 (2.7%), while in Chelmsford the total fell by 32 to 2,837, leaving the rate unchanged at 2.6%.

Nationally, employment fell by 63,000 in the quarter to October to 29.11million, with the number of people working in the public sector dipping below six million for the first time since 2003. Private sector employment, however, increased by 5,000 to 23.1 million.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the figures showed “some signs that the labour market is stabilising”, with the number of people in employment having risen compared with the previous month’s figures.

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “No amount of spin can put a gloss on these terrible figures. Worryingly, the latest rise in job losses looks less like a bad blip and more like a trend of entrenched high unemployment, with new records being set each month.”