UK unemployment rises unexpectedly to 7.2%

The percentage of the economically active population aged 16 and over who were unemployed (the unemployment rate) rose to 7.2% over the three months leading to December 2013, up by 0.1% compared to the previous trimester, the latest report from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has revealed.

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Nevertheless, the report also pointed out that the percentage of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work (the employment rate) was 72.1%, up 0.3 percentage points from July to September 2013 and up 0.6 from a year earlier. The total number of people in employment aged 16 and over reached 30.15 million over the same time frame, up by 193,000 from July to September 2013 and up 396,000 from a year earlier.

Furthermore, the percentage of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the economic inactivity rate) was set at 22.1% (8.93 million people), which remained roughly unchanged from July to September 2013 and from a year earlier.

Nick Palmer, senior labour market statistician at ONS said: “The main conclusion that should be drawn from these latest figures is that the rate at which unemployment has been falling is likely to have slowed down.”

Figures from the ONS report also suggest that, between December 2013 and January 2014, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) fell by 27,600 to reach 1.22 million, the lowest figure since December 2008.

Plus, between January 2013 and January 2014 the number of JSA claimants fell by 327,600, the largest annual fall since March 1998.

Total pay rose by 1.1% compared with October to December 2012, with regular pay rising by 1.0% over the same period. In December 2013 employees in Great Britain earned, on average, £478 a week including bonuses (and £450 a week excluding bonuses) before tax and other deductions from pay.

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