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 74.

    It is not only a UK problem it is a western worl problem! Solutions:1) Pevent Companies from moving abroad (by taxing the imports), 2) invest in educating and on the job experience for all our youth.
    And let me not hear that if we manufactured over here products would cost more cause it is RUBBISH! Products would cost the same. It is just companies would 100% margin instead of the current 2000%

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    This government is creating unemployment, which is a losing game.

    All young people in UK - do go for further and/or higher education if you want to and don't be frighened off by media ranting about costs

    Remain at home and attend the closest course that you believe suits your needs/abilities.

    Don't be influenced by idiots around you who do nothing - boredom makes you boring as them. Think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I'm absolutely tickled by the typical example of an unemployed young person that the BBC News channel managed to put up for interview with Huw Edwards. A post-graduate dancer who wants to move into arts management, with independant supprt from mummy & daddy. You can't move for 'em at our job cente!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I have worked in recruitment for many years. Young people are difficult people to place, they seem to fall into 2 categories. 1. Can’t be bothered, still living at home with parents so no real pressure to earn 2. Recent Uni grads wanting starting salaries 30K+. We have roles at the moment for recent graduates and trainees, and mostly hear "no thanks" when speaking to potential candidates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Its going to go higher than 2.6m, unless we get some growth soon, i`m back on 3 days and work in structural steel which never came out of the last recession, The cuts have been too deep and too quick. The condems have just pulled the mat out from under all our feet. I live in S. Yorkshire and still remember the strife and despair that Thatcher left in this area.
    Its time to change things now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    With increasing population, unsustainable debt levels, high energy costs and low levels of social resiliance, benefit claimants will find it tough going, particularly if payments have to be reduced through fiscal neccessity.

    The key is to stay ahead of the game; live as an extended family, grow as much food as you can, dump (or share) your car, and create economic activity within your community.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    15 Minutes ago

    The problem is, the UK doesn't have enough qualified, competent engineers. 3 reasons: 1. Schools don't understand engineering and can't or won't promote it; 2. Maths and Physics are not taught to a high enough standard for a good grounding in engineering; 3. Engineering industries (with a few exceptions) don't 'sell' careers well and don't pay engineers enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    seaside steve - my dad has been teaching mechanical engineering at a top university for 25 years - these days all the good students are Chinese, all the British ones are rubbish. Education is the reason we don't have any home-grown engineers; a mixture of cop-out degrees available, an arbitrary target of 50% of people to 'go' to university and a lack of focus on promoting intellectual achievement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    44. The_Gambler


    Thanks for pointing up your inattention to detail, both Cameron and Osborne currently are blaming the Eurozone for our problems. Now try and make a bit more effort in trying to keep up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Until immigration is stopped there will never be a reduction in unemployment"

    I find these sorts of comments very frustrating. I ran a property services company in recent years. We had continuous vacancies for cleaning positions and, of the dozens of employees we had, indigenous Brits were by far the worst. That is the sole reason we employed largely EU nationals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    I work in a Bakery that employs nearly 1,000 hourly paid workers - a huge % are from Eastern Europe, a significant % of these under 25. When I queried this is comes down to what people think they should earn. Something is not quite right in this equation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Seaside Steve, I work in IT, and even though we already have the staff in place, so no skills shortage, in fact far from it, our management still export jobs to India simply to save money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    The message from the BBC would appear to be "let them eat toast sandwiches".

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Most of the criticism of the government seems to be "David Cameron had rich parents and is therefore 'out to help bankers and get the poor'.

    This is blind prejudice. It also conveniently ignores all the facts:e.g.

    It was the previous government that bailed out the bankers
    We have one of the highest tax rates on high earners in the world
    They inherited the worst economic mess since the 1930s

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    The UK has thousands of inventors with thousands of ideas but little support, one idea of mine has created work for 12 UK companies & I wonder how much work could be created if inventors had more help from the Government.

    Every political party agree we need to be making more products in the UK but none have really offered much help to our inventors.

    Inventions could bring money into the economey

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Storing youth unemployment is like storing debt but worse. When their time comes as we old ones fall off the perch they will not be ready and out of touch with the reality of work. Get them working now and let the old ones retire earlier not later. We are more likely to do constructive voluntary work such as help in care in the community etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

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

    Ahem! It was not a gamble. He knew exactly what he was doing: and this is the result. But the rich and wealthy Tory voters won't be affected, eh Dave?

    Could be. There's advantage in keeping unemployment high. Keeps wages down, subserviance up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.


    I voted blue. I earn 13k a year. I'm generally pleased with their performance. The reason being, if you take a look at our borrowing costs compared to all those who tried to carry on deficit spending, you'll find we're doing excellently.

    The US had its credit rating downgraded - did that happen to us? No?

    Why do you think these things might be the case?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    In my industry a recent announcement that we cannot find enough Electrical Engineers in the UK. A shortage that will no doubt be filled from China or India again. So, where do all our home grown engineers go? Maybe we need to be making more effort to get more/all unemployed young people into training,

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

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

    Ahem! It was not a gamble. He knew exactly what he was doing: and this is the result. But the rich and wealthy Tory voters won't be affected, eh Dave?


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