Unemployment rises to 2.68 million

The unemployment rate for the three months to November 2011 was 8.4%, up 0.3% on the previous quarter, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The total number of unemployed people increased by 118,000 over the quarter to reach 2.68 million.

The number of unemployed people aged from 16 to 24 increased by 52,000 over the quarter to reach 1.04 million- this figure includes 313,000 people in full-time education who were looking for work.

The unemployment level for people aged from 16 to 24 was the highest since directly comparable records began in 1992.

There were 1.60 million people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in December 2011, up 1,200 on November. The number of people claiming JSA for up to six months fell by 16,500 between November and December to reach 928,200.

Ben May, european economist at Capital Economics, says: “The latest UK unemployment figures were a bit of a mixed bag. Encouragingly, the claimant count fell by 1,200 in December, compared to the rises of 20,000 or more recorded during the summer months. Meanwhile, employment rose by 18,000 in the three months to November.

“Nonetheless this only reversed a small fraction of the 178,000 fall in the preceding three months. What’s more, the ILO measure of unemployment rose by 118,000 in the three months to November, pushing the rate up from 8.1% to 8.4%. We expect unemployment to rise much further.

“The recent slowdown in the wider economy is yet to have its full impact on the labour market and survey evidence suggests that firms plan to lay off workers at a faster pace in the coming months. And public sector employment has further to fall. Meanwhile, the recent downward trend in employment is keeping a lid on pay growth, with the headline rate of average earnings growth just 1.9% in November.”