Unemployment figures moving in 'right direction'

The Government said that unemployment was moving in the "right direction" despite an increase in the number of people on Jobseeker's Allowance and a youth jobless total of almost a million.





Unemployment fell by 17,000 in the quarter to February, to 2.48 million, a rate of 7.8%, down by 0.1% on the quarter.



The so-called claimant count increased by 700 last month to 1.45 million, including 462,300 women, the highest figure since October 1996.



The number of jobless 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 12,000 over the quarter to 963,000, while the total for 16 and 17-year-olds increased by 14,000 to 218,000, the highest since records began in 1992.



The number of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds fell by 2,000 on the quarter to reach 745,000.



Today's data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the number of unemployed men fell by 31,000 to 1.45 million and increased by 14,000 for women to just over a million.



Changes to benefit rules have seen women switching from income support to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) over the past two months.



The number of female claimants has now increased for nine months in a row and fallen for men for 14 consecutive months.



Employment has increased, showing a 143,000 rise to 29.23 million, although the figure is still 331,000 below the pre-recession peak reached in May 2008.



The latest increase was driven by full-time employment which rose by 140,000, the biggest rise in this group for four years.



The number of people classed as economically inactive fell by 71,000 to 9.3 million following a 48,000 reduction in those listed as having a long-term illness.



Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: "These figures are another step in the right direction.



"It's good news to see a rise in the number of full-time jobs in the private sector and the fall in unemployment is welcome.



"It is also reassuring to see a fall in the number of young people not in full-time education who are unemployed.



"However, there are challenges ahead and our priority is to continue to support the economy, by reducing the deficit and putting in place measures to encourage growth in the private sector."



The Government said tackling youth unemployment remained a priority, centred on growth in apprenticeships and work experience places.









Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The damage caused by the Government's savage cuts-driven policies is clear, with young people and women being hit the hardest.



"We face a lost generation of young people being priced out of education and with the prospect of job opportunities in the future fading fast."



John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "It is extremely worrying that nearly one million of our school leavers and graduates are unemployed. Our research shows that only one in 10 small firms took on an apprentice or a graduate intern over the past year.



"Businesses need incentives to tackle youth unemployment. The Government must extend the National Insurance contributions holiday to existing firms. This would help them to employ."



TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Today's figures are a welcome relief for those looking for work but our labour market recovery is still far from secure.



"The surprise fall in unemployment is good news for the millions of people looking for work, although the fall in the number of vacancies from last month is a worrying sign.



"The news for those in work is less positive, with earnings growth falling and the gap between wages and inflation rising sharply to 3.5%. The growing earnings gap is piling the pressure on people's living standards.



"Rising long-term unemployment and youth joblessness close to a million offer a sobering reality check on today's upbeat figures."



Martina Milburn, chief executive for youth charity The Prince's Trust, said: "Unemployed young people living in the UK outnumber all the runners who have ever taken part in the London marathon since it launched 30 years ago.



"With the total number of unemployed school leavers at its highest since records began, the prospects for a generation of young people are looking increasingly bleak."



Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "While the jobs figures are apparently signalling green for go, they reflect an improvement in the labour market at the turn of the year and don't tell us anything much about the road ahead.



"Indeed, the most up to date figures for vacancies and claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance suggest that labour market conditions softened again in the early spring and it remains likely that unemployment will start to rise again later this year.



"Especially welcome in today's figures is a substantial rise in the number of people working full-time, although this was still insufficient to prevent a further increase in the number of people working part-time who would prefer a full-time job."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain