Unemployment in the UK is up to 2.5 million, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The labour market statistics show that the unemployment rate for the three months to October 2010 was 7.9 per cent, a 0.1 increase on the previous quarter, with analysts suggesting that the jobless total will move towards three million in the new year.
Today’s figures represent the first quarterly growth in the unemployment rate since the three months to April 2010, and the number of 16-year-olds and over in employment dropped by 33,000 over the course of the quarter to reach 29.13 million.
A report prepared by Capital Economics economist Vicky Redwood said: “The recovery in the UK labour market appears to be flagging even before the public sector job cuts have really started.
“We still expect unemployment to rise fairly sharply over the next couple of years and reach the three million mark.”
The retail industry has been touted as one of the main sectors that can soak up public sector jobs expected to be lost as a result of the government’s austerity measures.
British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Bond Pearce’s Retail Employment Monitor, published in October, showed that 61 per cent of retailers were planning to add to their workforce in the final three months of 2010.
Commenting on the survey, BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said: “At a time of economic uncertainty, and with half-a-million public jobs due to be lost by 2014, this is up-to-the-minute evidence that retailers are continuing to invest in new premises and people.”