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New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today show unemployment (ILO measure) at 2.638 million compared to the previously published figure of 2.622 million. However, the number of people in work is 38,000 higher than the level published last month.

The rise in the number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) shows signs of slowing – up 3,000 this month to 1.6 million.  This is despite the impact of welfare reform measures that have increased the number of people moving onto JSA from incapacity benefits or income support.

Today’s figures also show a more stable picture on youth unemployment.  The number of 16 to 24-year-olds who have left full-time education and are seeking work is 730,000, the same as the figure published last month, while the number of full-time students looking for a job has risen to 297,000.

The figures show that in the past 18 months the number of people claiming one of the main out-of-work benefits has fallen by around 40,000 and over the same period the number employed by the private sector has risen by over 500,000.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

“There has obviously been an unwelcome increase in unemployment since the summer but these latest figures show some signs that the labour market is stabilising. The number of people in employment is higher than last month’s published figure and the number of unemployed people is steadying.  Encouragingly this is also the case for young people not in education.

“The increase in those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has slowed and our welfare reforms are having a positive impact with overall benefit claimant numbers falling by around 40,000 in the last 18 months.”

There are still economic challenges ahead and the government is reacting by helping people to find employment through initiatives with the private sector.

It was announced in the past month that 160,000 incentives of &pound2,275 will be available to employers who take on young people in the Work Programme. This is more than enough to cover an employer’s National Insurance contributions for a year and exceeds the recommendations by the CBI in their recent report on youth employment.

The &pound1billion programme to help young unemployed people also pledged 250,000 extra Work Experience places over the next three years, taking the total to at least 100,000 places a year. The private sector has been vital in the success of this scheme with half of under-25 year-olds taking part leaving benefits within three months.

To support private sector growth the New Enterprise Allowance will help people to become self employed and in turn become employers themselves. The initiative provides a business mentor and offers financial support of up to around &pound2,000, including a weekly allowance for up to 26 weeks and access to a start up loan. 40,000 new businesses are expected to be created by 2013.


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