UK unemployment records sharp rise, figures from the ONS suggest


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UK unemployment levels have recorded a sharp rise between December and February, recent data from the Office for National Statistics have been able to reveal.

Between September to November 2015 and the 3 months to February 2016, the number of people in work and the number of unemployed people increased, but the number of people not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) fell.

There were 31.41 million people in work, 20,000 more than for September to November 2015 and 360,000 more than for a year earlier. Out of these, 22.98 million people were working full-time, 289,000 more than for a year earlier. Furthermore, there were 8.43 million people working part-time, 71,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.1%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971. There were 1.70 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 21,000 more than for September to November 2015 but 142,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The unemployment rate was 5.1%, lower than for a year earlier (5.6%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force (those in work plus those unemployed) that were unemployed.

Additionally, there were 8.87 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 121,000 fewer than for a year earlier and the lowest since May to July 2003.

The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.7%, the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.

“It’s too soon to be certain, but with unemployment up for the first time since mid-2015 – and employment seeing its slowest rise since that period – it’s possible that recent improvements in the labour market may be easing off,” ONS statistician Nick Palmer said.

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