UK unemployment increases to 2.62m

Unemployment chart

UK unemployment rose by 129,000 in the three months to September to 2.62 million, as youth unemployment rose above a million.

The jobless total for 16 to 24-year-olds hit a record of 1.02 million in the quarter and female unemployment was at its highest for 23 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate hit 8.3%.

The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 5,300 to 1.6 million in October.

The news comes as the Bank of England's governor Sir Mervyn King said Britain's economy could stagnate until the middle of next year.

The Bank cut its 2011 and 2012 growth predictions to about 1%, warning the global economic outlook had "worsened".

Female unemployment

The news from the latest labour market figures is almost universally gloomy. It's true that the rise in the claimant count (those signing on for Jobseeker's Allowance) of 5,300 in October was less than expected and well within margins for error in a total of 1.6 million.

There were slightly fewer redundancies in the three months to September than in the previous three months. But record youth unemployment and the highest overall unemployment level since 1994 speak for themselves.

The number of workforce jobs is the lowest since 2004 despite the increase in population. Insufficient jobs are being created because of low growth and that seems unlikely to change next year.

The unemployment rate of 8.3% is the highest since 1996 and the total number of unemployed people the highest since 1994.

The number of women out of work increased by 43,000 to 1.09 million, the highest level since February 1988.

The unemployment rate was highest in the North East, at 11.6% and lowest in the South East at 6.3%.

Eurozone debate

The number of people in work was also down 197,000 on the quarter.

"These figures show just how much our economy is being affected by the crisis in the eurozone," said Employment Minister Chris Grayling.

"Our European partners must take urgent action to stabilise the position," he added.

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Were you young and unemployed during the 1980s?”

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But his view did not find universal backing within the government. A senior Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Oakeshott, said Mr Grayling needed a lesson in economics if he believed the eurozone crisis was to blame for rising UK unemployment.

The opposition, for its part, blamed the government's spending cuts for the rise.

"The British economic recovery was choked off well before the instability in the last few months in the eurozone," said shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

"The government is cutting too far and too fast and it's pushing borrowing and unemployment up at the same time," he added.

Youth unemployment graph

The government says it has launched initiatives to help 350,000 young people into work.

The number of young people out of work during the three months to September rose by 67,000.

The total is the highest since comparable records began 19 years ago.

Youth unemployment graph

The figure includes 286,000 people in full time education looking for part-time work.

"Today's figures are a wake-up call for Britain. It is critical to help young people into work for the future of our economy and society," said Martina Milburn from the Prince's Trust charity, which works with young people.

Self-employed rise

The figures from the office of national statistics also showed average earnings grew by 2.3% in the year to September, down 0.4% on the previous month.

The fall will further reduce pressure on the Bank of England to increase rates to tackle inflation.

The number of employees excluding the self-employed fell by 305,000 to 24.79m, the lowest since records begun.

At the same time, the number of self-employed people reached a record high of 4.09 million.

Michael Hill says the poor transport links in his town hampers his job prospects


The high unemployment numbers will increase attention on the government's autumn statement which is expected to focus on measures to promote growth.

However, Chancellor George Osborne is unlikely to suggest any changes to plans to cut the deficit.

The Bank of England has cut its growth forecast for 2011-12 from about 1.5% to about 1%.

With unemployment rising and wages increasing by less than inflation, some economists are concerned that growth will stagnate further.

"When you have bad wage growth and rising unemployment, it doesn't bode well for consumption," said George Buckley from Deutsche Bank.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Remember the following headline banner from the Sun?
    "Would the last person to leave the UK please turn off the lights"

    I think that we're in for something similar in the UK in the near future, our young will leave in search of employment, what good will that do our country? But the "silver spooners" won't give a toss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    When the Cons run the country this is what you get.Just remember what it was like and the high unemployment when Maggie was in power.The rich will be o/k,David will make sure they are protected.Just remember that the working class are canon fodder to the Cons,always have been and always will be.They have no conscious for what they do to the working class.The Dems are now the same as the Cons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    So much for Osborne's various gambles. He should be hanging his head in shame right now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The government needs to step up a gear with this unemployment issue. Something like allowing SMEs business rate reductions if they take on an extra person in the next 4 weeks would be a step in the right direction. The worry is that so many people are not training, learning or getting experience during the time they are out of work so become even less employable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    It's quite amazing how some people think we live in a bubble, where bad weather, our trading partners having no money, and raw material price increases, simply don't affect us.

    Do you people really think King comes up with excuses every month? Are you really that uninformed that you're unaware it's econometric analysis which determines the marginal impact of these factors on our figures?

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    No suprises.

    What are the government doing to reduce unempoyment?

    Then thats why it keeps rising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    What annoys me about these figures is how ALL our politicians somehow put the blame on 'the world's economic crisis'........without offering a mention of the vast influx of immigrants we see from Eastern Europe.
    How our politicians DODGE...our 2 million plus unemployed... with 2 million 'visitors?' working here.... is a MIRACLE'.

    Just a thought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    @31 'Gyhtier'. I would suggest you are not contributing to this debate by criticising all students. The majority of students work jobs, and they pay income tax, NI on those earnings, plus VAT too.

    Unemployment after graduation - whether professional or vocational - the most students have a job lined up. In addition, some of the wealthiest students sign up for JSA while working for parents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I left my job to go to university just before the financial mess. I wasn't well paid so student finance was enough to live on. I thought I was lucky as the company I worked for went bust and over 1000 local people were looking for similar work while I had a steady income.

    I thought the country would be on it's feet before I graduated but now I am just an unemployed graduate in 20k student debt!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    This tory led government knows how to get people back into work and how to lower food and utility bills but all They are interested in is filling the coffers.Just dropping fuel prices would do good and lower taxes but no way will they do that.WHY?There is more to it.We will suffer for a long time yet.THE POOR THAT IS THE RICH ARE LAUGHING BEHIND THIER DOORS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.


    "Now he and Osborne are blaming the EU for the fall-out from their own failed (I used the term ironically) 'economic' policies."

    Actually, it was the Bank of England which called the Eurozone crisis the single biggest threat to our economy.

    But don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Hi-Tech firms complaining that "we can't get the staff" have a problem of their own making. You can have a C.V. which makes you an excellent candidate for the vacancy, but unless you have the exact skills they want - the answer is always "No!" Firms won't take on candidates and give them the specialist training needed for their specific products: pure short-sightedness. I speak from experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    When Bertie Wooster/Flashman talks of the "Big Society" what he actually means is the "Big Unemployed Society"
    Now he and Osborne are blaming the EU for the fall-out from their own failed (I used the term ironically) 'economic' policies.
    They could never pull away and disengage from the EU who would they blame for the results of their own ineptitude?
    See what happens if you don't bother to vote!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Ive been a goldsmith for 10 years, in 2008 i was unfairly dismissed from a place i worked at since i began my career. I belive i lost my job because i was the youngest employee on the highest pay. Since then i have encontered discrimination for every job i have applied We are the future and we should be given support and oppertunity's to look after ourselfs and contribute to society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    If I was young and qualified, I would emigrate to Australia.
    This country has nothing but gloom to look forward to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Oh come on, David Cameron specifically told our students that they would be investing in their future bu taking a degree; he promised them better jobs - so it must be true. It is hardly as if he would want to encourage students to pay for themselves to free up a job vacancy or unemployment benefit. I am sure that all our graduates will be handsomely rewarded

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The BoE and the goverment predicted low inflation and higher growth, we have completely the opposite. They said that jobs would be created in the private sector, unemployment continues to climb. They are trying to blame ithe eurozone for our economic problems, which is just not true. We are heading for a full blown recession caused by the coalitions austerity policies

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    A Tory MP in the Times states, inter alia, that what is needed is" the scraping of the minimum wage and the need for training" He seems to think that workers have it too easy and that "poor business owners" are standing in the soup kitchens. This news will bring unalloyed joy to the Tories and their supporters. They long for the days when the poor "know their place" which is abject poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    A telling comment at lunchtime, each quarter, BoE has different reasons for failing to meet their obligations. So the latest one is to blame the Eurozone, until that is debunked. In the meantime, the unemployment figures are being nailed to the same mast. Please just accept our unemployment is up because there are no jobs being created and businesses closing down and school-leavers not in FE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Just another example of how the current government is making a huge hash of sorting out our Country. This is a shocking figure and the arguments against the scale of the cuts is valid, when looking at the statistics. Also, the government say they want to get rid of the benefit culture, but how can they do this by making more and more people unemployed. This is an oxy moron!!


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