Press release

Grayling: increase in unemployment tempered by a reduction in the number of people claiming benefits and growth in private sector jobs

New figures published today show that unemployment (ILO measure) has risen by 27,000 on the quarter to 2.5 million.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment (ILO measure) has risen by 27,000 on the quarter to 2.5 million. However, the overall picture continues to be mixed with the number of people in employment rising by 32,000, driven entirely by the growth of full time jobs in the private sector.

The figures also show an encouraging fall in the number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance this month, while the total number claiming out-of-work benefits has fallen by around a quarter of a million over the last year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

There is good news and bad news in these figures. There’s been a welcome drop in the number of people on benefits, and the increase in full-time private sector jobs is a step in the right direction.

But the rise in overall unemployment is a real concern and underlines the need to press ahead with policies which will further stimulate growth in the private sector. For those on benefits that are now looking to make the transition into the workplace our new Work Programme will provide tailored support to get them into jobs.

The Government’s flagship new Work Programme will be in place by the summer and will offer personalised, tailored support to get people back into jobs.

The number of young people aged (16 to 24) who are classed as ILO unemployed rose by 30,000 over the quarter to 974,000. However, of the 30,000 increase, 13,000 are students in full time education and looking for some part time work to fit around their studies.

Of the 974,000 ILO unemployed, there are 285,000 students - over a quarter of the total - in full time education looking for some part time work to fit out around their studies.

To enable young people to get valuable work experience Government has changed the rules so that young people can do up to two months work experience and keep their benefits. Under previous rules it was for only two weeks.  Jobcentre Plus offices around the country are working with local businesses to refer young people onto work experience opportunities.

From April Prince’s Trust advisers and other community groups will be stationed in some Jobcentres to refer young people to volunteering and training opportunities.

Notes to Editors:

Background to labour market statistics: March 2011

This month’s Labour Force Survey covers November to January 2011. The claimant count and Jobcentre Plus vacancy count dates were 10th and 4th February 2011 respectively.

The number of people in work rose this quarter

  • 29.157 million people were in work in November to January 2011.
  • the employment level in November-January was 32 thousand higher than the previous quarter and up 296 thousand on the year.
  • the employment rate is 70.5%, down 0.1 percentage points on the quarter, but up 0.1 points on the year.

The number of people on JSA fell this month with the trend close to flat.  The number claiming one of the other main out-of-work benefits is also falling:

  • claimant unemployment was 1,448.6 thousand in February 2011, down 10.2 thousand on the level in January 2011, and down 128.1 thousand on the year. 
  • the claimant unemployment rate, at 4.5%, is unchanged on the month and down 0.4 percentage points on the year.
  • In the year to August 2010, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 26,130 to 2.61 million. The most recent provisional figure for January 2011 is 2.57 million, suggesting the level is falling slowly.
  • in the year to August 2010, the number of lone parents on income support fell 43,380 to 672,350. Provisional figures for January 2011 suggest the number has fallen further in recent months, to 625,000, driven by welfare reform.

ILO unemployment rose this quarter but the underlying position is close to flat

  • 2.53 million people were ILO unemployed in the November to January quarter, up by 27 thousand on the August to October period and up 87 thousand on the same quarter last year. 
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 8.0%, up 0.1 percentage points on the quarter and up 0.2 percentage points on the year.

The level of economic inactivity is up on the quarter but down on the year

  • the economic inactivity level is 9.3 million, up 43 thousand on the quarter but down 67 thousand on the year.
  • the economic inactivity rate is 23.3%, up by 0.1 points on the quarter but down 0.3 points on the year.
  • excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 17.8%, up 0.1 points on the quarter but unchanged on the year.

The number of vacancies rose on the quarter and the number of redundancies fell

  • There were 141 thousand redundancies in November to January 2011, down 17 thousand on the previous quarter and down 27 thousand on the year.
  • ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 496 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to February 2011, up 24 thousand on the quarter and up 15 thousand on the year.

Total weekly pay in November to January was up by 2.3% over the year

  • growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up 2.2% on the year.
Published 16 March 2011