Unemployment data paints mixed picture

The latest unemployment statistics have painted a mixed picture, with both good and bad news.

According to the Office for National Statis…

The latest unemployment statistics have painted a mixed picture, with both good and bad news.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the three months from July to September saw the number of people aged 16 to 64 in work increase by 100,000 – or 0.2 per cent of the workforce – from the April to June figure. This took the total of people in employment to 29.58 million.

In addition to this, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 7.8 per cent of the workforce over the same period, reducing the unemployment tally by 49,000 to 2.51 million.

This will be good news for those who have found new posts. People whose ability to pay their debt has been eroded by losing a job may be greatly aided by getting back into work.

While that much is obvious, there was also some negative news in the latest figures. The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance (JSA) rose by 10,100 between September and October to reach 1.58 million.

One explanation for this might be that the people losing their jobs are those most in need of the extra help they can get through making benefit claims. This could particularly include borrowers in significant debt who need all the money they can get, while excluding those with little or no debt and savings to fall back on.

Whatever the explanation, there is another area of concern. Employment has been rising despite the contraction in gross domestic product in the first half of this year. Now the economy is out of recession, it might be expected matters would improve. Instead, the ONS noted the latest quarterly rise in the number of people in work is the smallest since the figure of 82,000 in the three months to February 2012.  

Director for employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry Neil Carberry noted job creation is now "much slower" than earlier this year and described the JSA increase "troubling".

By Joe White

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