From education to employment

ONS unemployment figures provide small dose of optimism

A much-needed, if small, dose of optimism was offered to the UK youths when the official government figures of unemployment were unveiled earlier this morning by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to official figures, the unemployment rate for the three months up to May 2011 fell to 7.7% of the economically active population, with the total number of unemployment falling by 26,000 over the quarter to reach 9.33 million.

The most significant decrease was detected among people aged from 16 to 24. The number of unemployed people in this age group fell by 42,000 over the quarter to reach 4,26 million.

However, the rise in the total number of young people enrolled in full-time education by 35,000 on the quarter, reaching 3.06 million, paints a more complex picture.

The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to May 2011 was 70.7%, unchanged on the quarter, according to the ONS. But the number of employees and self-employed people working part-time increased by 80,000 on the quarter to reach 1.25 million – the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

The rise in redundancies and claimant count further suggests that the UK economy has not yet achieved long -term stability. Some 1.52 million people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in June, up 24,500 on the previous month, while the number of redundancies in the three months to May was up 16,000 to 144,000.

ONS reveals this increase in redundancies occurred mainly among women. The number of women claimants also significantly increased by 9,500 to reach 493,900 – the highest figure since August 1996.

A further increase was detected in the growth rates for both total and regular pay, but it was again of a subdued nature. The average earnings, including bonuses, rose 2.0% in the three months to May, while the average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose a 2.1% during the same period. These increases were driven by the private sector.

Apostolos Kostoulas

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