Jobless rise 'disappointing', says George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne today admitted official figures revealing an unexpected rise in unemployment were "disappointing" but not "entirely unexpected".

The country's jobless rate stood at 2.49 million, or 7.9%, between April and June, the Office for National Statistics said, after the total number of unemployed increased by 38,000.

The increase was the largest since May 2009 and the first since January, while economists had expected a fall of around 10,000.

Within the figures, the number of unemployed women hit levels not seen in more than 23 years, while youth unemployment covering the ages between 16 and 24 moved closer to the politically sensitive one million marker at 949,000 or 20.2%, up 0.2% from the three months to March.

Elsewhere, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) showed the biggest monthly rise in more than two years, increasing by 37,100 to 1.56 million people.

The figures prompted calls for the Chancellor to reconsider his tough programme of public sector spending cuts - which includes hundreds of thousands of job losses across the UK.

Mr Osborne is banking on a healthy private sector to pick up the slack in the economy but recent figures showing sluggish 0.2% growth in the second quarter have raised fears over the strength of the recovery.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public service trade union Unison, said the Government's "savage" cuts have ended opportunities in the public sector and the private sector is struggling to withstand the economic downturn.

He said: "The Government's economic strategy is in tatters. They need to stop the cuts and restore hope by planning for growth."

Stephen Timms, Labour's shadow employment minister said the Government was creating a vicious circle by cutting "too far and too fast".

But the Chancellor said: "With what is going on in the world economy and with world markets, they (the figures) are not entirely unexpected.

"There is some good news that employment, those in work, is still going up. We are creating jobs in this economy as well as jobs being lost."

Average earnings increased by 2.6% in the year to June, up by 0.3 percentage points over the previous month, with weekly wages now averaging £462.

While this was the largest rise since April last year, the increase in average wages was driven by a bumper period for private sector bonuses and still falls far behind the high rate of inflation, which stood at 4.2% in June and increased to 4.4% in July.

The number of people unemployed for up to six months increased by 66,000 over the quarter to reach 1.23 million - the largest quarterly increase in two years.

The number of unemployed men increased by 18,000 to 1.45 million, while jobless women increased by 21,000 to 1.05 million - the highest figure since May 1988.

The number of employees working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 83,000 on the quarter to reach 1.26 million - the highest figure since records began in 1992.

The number of men claiming JSA increased by 21,500 to reach 1.05 million and the number of women claimants increased by 15,600 to reach 512,700, the highest figure since April 1996.

The employment rate in the UK increased by 25,000 in the three months to June to 29.27 million or a rate of 70.7%. The number of employed people is still 307,000 lower than the pre-recession peak of 29.57 million recorded in the three months to May 2008.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial services information company Markit, said: "Survey data indicate that unemployment is likely to continue to rise in coming months as private sector employers fail to make up for public sector job cuts."

But the Department for Work and Pensions said the Government had introduced measures to stimulate job growth across the UK.

The introduction of 11 new "Enterprise Zones", designed to boost local growth and create more than 30,000 new jobs by 2015 and a £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) for projects to support growth are among the Government's initiatives.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the figures were disappointing but added that "the road to recovery would be choppy".

He said: "Clearly this has been a difficult few months, with a range of one-off factors and a slowdown in the world economy having an impact on the UK.

"This is why we are focused on taking steps to increase growth, support the economy and encourage businesses to invest and create jobs."


Region / Total / Change on Unemployment

North East 126,000 minus 4,000 10.0%

North West 300,000 plus 35,000 8.8%

Yorkshire/Humber 223,000 minus 21,000 8.5%

East Midlands 187,000 plus 10,000 8.0%

West Midlands 224,000 minus 30,000 8.5%

East 197,000 plus 10,000 6.5%

London 406,000 plus 22,000 9.5%

South East 260,000 plus 5,000 5.8%

South West 175,000 minus 1,000 6.6%

Wales 122,000 plus 10,000 8.4%

Scotland 209,000 plus 1,000 7.7%

N Ireland 63,000 plus 2,000 7.3%

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea