A lack of full-time jobs saw the number of people working part-time hit a record high as unemployment levels took an unexpected leap last quarter.
According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics
, the number of people out of work rose to a peak not seen since February 2010. Unemployment jumped by 38,000 to 2.49 million in the three months to June – the equivalent of 7.9% of the total workforce.
Women were disproportionately hit, however, with female unemployment increasing by 5.6% during the quarter compared with a 1.6% decline in worklessness among men.
The number of females who joined the ranks of the unemployed increased by 21,000 over the three months to hit 1.05 million – the highest figure since 1988. The Centre for Economic and Business Research
said that the situation was likely to reflect the impact of public sector job cuts as a higher proportion of females were employed in the area.
But the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance also rose by 37,100 to 1.56 million in July, its biggest rise since May 2009. The claimant count has now increased for the third month in a row.
David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce
, said: “The figures reveal a worrying rise in unemployment and a significant increase in claimant count. There is a clear slowdown in the number of jobs being created, which has halved since the previous quarter.”
One of the most concerning features of the figures, however, was the sharp increase in the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job, he added.
While the number of people in work rose during the quarter by 25,000 to reach 2.97 million, the jump was at least partly to more people being employed part-time due to a lack of full-time work.
Some 83,000 more people indicated that they had no choice but to take a part-time position during the quarter, with the total figure reaching 1.26 million – the highest since comparable records began in 1992.
Neville Hill, an economist at Credit Suisse
, told the Financial Times: “In general, these data suggest a deteriorating labour market, consistent with an economy that has recently slowed to a below-trend rate.”
The rise in the number of people seeking jobless benefits was now consistent with a recession, he added.