From the TUC

Unemployment on track for 2.5 million by the Summer

12 May 2009, by in Economics, Labour market

Today’s earlier than usual unemployment statistics show that at the end of March this year ILO unemployment was at 2,215,000, giving us a national unemployment rate of 7.1%. This is the highest rate since early 1997. The rise on the quarter was 244,000 people – the second largest quarterly rise since records started in 1971 (the largest increase was 264,000 at the end of 1980). Young people continue to be badly affected – the unemployment rate for those aged 18-24 is now 16.1%, with 676,000 young people out of work. And vacancies are still falling sharply with only 447,000 vacancies recorded during April, 223,000 fewer than the same time last year.

The rate of claimant count increase has slowed (there was an increase of 57,100 on the month, a rise of 3.9% from March, lower than the 4.7% increase between Feb – March 09), and while the ILO unemployment rate rose by 115,000 between the most recent rolling quarter (Jan-Mar 09) and the last (Dec 08 – Feb 09) this could mirror the large increase in the claimant count figures that we saw between January and February (the claimant count figures are more recent than the broader unemployment data) allowing for the possibility that since then the rate at which unemployment is increasing could have slowed. But it is too early to tell, and also important to remember that while the rate of claimant count increase has reduced, the levels remains historically high – before the current recession the last time the claimant count increased by over 57,100 was between June and July 1991.

So unemployment is still rising fast, remaining on track to reach 2.5 million by the Summer and to continue on upwards for long after. And as the FT reported, Richard’s analysis has shown that in fact there are around 4.2 million people do not have a job but would like one. This includes those working part-time who want a full-time job, and those who are classified as economically inactive but would like to be in work.

Unemployment remains a national emergency which will require Government investment and intervention for some time to come. While we have welcomed the introduction of the Future Jobs Fund and the job subsidy scheme for those facing long-term unemployment we still believe that more should be done to stop people from losing their jobs in the first place, and that a pressing need for Government support for short-time working remains. It is also time for those calling for public sector cuts to spell out what their proposals would do for those currently out of work – and how their plans would prevent the unemployment figures rising even higher. Cutting public sector jobs would only add to our current unemployment crisis, and it’s time for the Tories to start providing some explanations.

Further analysis will be available in our recession report early next week – we’ll be blogging about it here.