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 94.

    I think we have to start thinking outside the box make the governent responsible everybody should be guarranteed 20 years of full time employment and the rest of the time you should work for the state for your benefit we have plenty of sections in the public sector that need more staff

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    81 peter "my psychology marks for my personality were not good enough" - oh dear, I thought those tests were a 90s thing. There are plenty Myers - Briggs type personality tests online. With a little practice you can project any personality you want. Middle-of-the-road is probably safest!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    @82 'chrisjf'. You are way over the line in your post about graduates being over qualified to work in retail. How dare you.

    In fact, less snobbery about ALL occupations in the UK would be more constructive. We all need each other in the workplace to function. Be kind and treat everyone the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Retire everyone at 55 then we'll have loads of jobs available for them. The choice is simple pensions or dole?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    There is always work out there if you are prepared to look!

    The problem nowadays is that youngsters want a ten hour week for £500 wages, free board and lodging, free this free that. Get off your backsides and look for work it's out there waiting, you may not want the work, but it gives you a foot in the door.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    A lot of the unemployment is the reward for 12 years of New Labour. They moved large numbers of people onto the state payroll ( to hide the true unemployment level and generate lots of grateful labour voters?). To aim fort 50% of school leavers in higher education/university was disingenuous at least, raising student expectations for graduate jobs that NL knew would never exist.
    Thank you, Tony

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    You know there is something wrong when a 19 year old kid is told by and employer he is over qualified for a job. How can a 19 year old ever be over qualified for his first ever job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    What I would recommend to any would be job seeker is do not waste your time sending off your CVs 99% and binned. Get yourself looking nice and call in person at 10 or more places of employment a day. Only call at places that you feel that you work at. We receive up to 150 CVs a week however when a person walks through he/she door

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I cannot see the problem. The unemployment is part of the medicine to help cure the problems created by Brown and the previous labour government. Fact, as repeatedly stated by the coalition. Ergo, the level of unemployment is good for the nation and will create prosperity. Stop moaning. When the rest of the cuts take place we will have more unemployment and more prosperity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    So Sir Mervyn King said Britain's economy could stagnate until the middle of next year - middle of the next century more like.

    Since the 1970's manufacturing in this country has been in freefall and none of the political parties have done one jot to correct it. Couple this with grinding poverty forcing people to work longer - the youth in this country don't stand a chance!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    It's sad to read the secondary National Curriculum. There's no electronics or computer programming, just "ICT" which would bore any budding engineer to tears. I had a look at Geography instead but all I saw was a collection of woolly concepts. Navigation and weather forecasting don't even get a mention. How are young people going to get real jobs if all they are taught is waffle?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I am one those who thought that they would be retiring soon, but the government has moved the goal. This means that I will be doing work that coulos be done by a younger person. If we hold on to old workers how do we get the youngest into job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    these figures would be much higher if they took into account the graduates who are working as part time sales assistants!! retail at the moment must be the most over qualified job sector!

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I recently filled in an online application form for ASDA, only to be told that my psychology marks for my personality were not good enough. Please can someone explain to me how you can tell a persons personality without meeting them first?. Apparenty, ASDA are rejecting 90% out of 100% who go for their jobs online. Shame on you ASDA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    The situation is because 10 million immigrants have come into the UK either legally or illegally over the last few decades and are currently either languishing on the dole or are taking the jobs of locals OR many young people, even graduates have poor social skills, poor english, maths and are quite frankly unemployable. Only very few are actually 'employable' and are genuinely ready for work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    This is life under the torys. I started work in 1979 and I have seen the decline. Most jobs in manufacturing are un/semi-skilled now with only a few skilled old timers keeping things going. Hardly anyone is training and the appretiships are a joke. Qualifications have been watered down and are not fit for purpose. And factorys full of foreign cheap labour. Our Kids dont stand a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Time we employed the British.

    There are too many EU and other immigrants working here doing jobs our kids need for work experience.

    No work experience = no prospect of a job so we pay them to sit at home. How can we improve the economy like this?

    No Brainer. Do something Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    So Chris Grayling thinks its all the fault of these nasty Europeans. He should pay off the deficit from the money he "borrowed" from the tax payers "by mistake" during the last Parliament. "Can you lend me £60,000.00 for a bed for the night, Guv?" If the amount of effort put into excuses by the government was put into economics the crisis would be over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    62.Eddy from Waring
    well eating toast sandwiches would kill off those with kidney failure.
    The unemployment statistics sadly come as no surprise and unfortunateely being well educated and willing to work for minimum wage still doesn't get people a job these days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    It's not much comfort for someone currently looking for work, but the UK population of teenagers and thirtysomethings is lower than for people in their twenties and forties. Once the 1946-51 babyboomers have retired, teenagers seeking work in the years ahead may encounter better employment prospects...


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