UK unemployment hits 17-year high

12 October 2011

The number of people who are unemployed in the UK has hit a new high after rising by 114,000 between June and August, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

There are currently 2.57 million people out of work - the highest level since 1994.

The percentage of the population who is unemployed, but actively seeking work is now 8.1%.

The unemployment total for 16–24 year olds has also hit a new high of 991,000 in the last quarter.

Stagnant market

"Young people today are facing a stagnant jobs market where vacancies are sparse," says Sarah Hamilton-Fairly, chief executive of social enterprise StartHere.

"It doesn't mean that there are no jobs to be had, but it means competition is more fierce than ever."

Over one in five job seeking 16-24 year olds are now unemployed - the highest rate since comparable records began in 1992.

"These figures will make extremely grim reading for the UK's jobseekers, as well as those facing the threat of redundancy," says Daniel Callaghan, director of recruitment service, MBA & Co.

"The public sector continues to make cuts, and the private sector simply cannot accommodate these. Instead, a significant number of UK companies are concentrating on keeping their businesses afloat."

The picture was particularly bleak for part-time workers who saw a record cut in jobs, down by 175,000 between June and August. Meanwhile, older workers also suffered with 74,000 over-65s becoming unemployed during the quarter.

This data hasn't come as a surprise though. "The economy is growing at half the pace it need to keep unemployment stable. That's not going to change anytime soon, so we should get used to numbers like this," says Alan Clarke spokesperson for finance group Scotia Capital.

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