There are almost a million young people unemployed in Britain, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed yesterday – about one in five people and the highest number since 1992.
The ONS said that the claimant count also rose in December, by 2,400 to about 1.6 million. The headline figure for unemployment – including those ineligible for benefits – rose by 44,000 over the three months to the end of 2010, to just under 2.5 million.
In a disappointing release for ministers keen to demonstrate that the private sector was generating sufficient jobs to make up for the estimated 330,000 to be lost in the public sector in the next few years, there was a decline of 68,000 in the total number of people at work, suggesting the recovery may be more fragile than thought.
Fears are growing that the UK will suffer a "jobless recovery", which is especially bad news for younger workers struggling to enter the labour market. About 965,000 of those aged 16 to 24 are out of work, up 64,000 from the three months to September. Overall, about 1.6 million people are in part-time or temporary work because they cannot find a permanent position, and 833,000 have now been out of work for more than a year. At almost 100,000, a record number have also given up looking for work or taken early retirement. David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "It is particularly worrying that the number of people who are working part-time because they could not find a full-time job, and the number of young unemployed, both rose to the highest level since records began.
"UK unemployment will rise by a further 100,000 over the next year."