The ONS labour market statistics for October to December 2017 published today show unemployment up by 46,000 on the quarter and the rate rising to 4.4%. The statistics also show that the employment level has increased by 88,000 more than the previous quarter, with 32.15 million people in work in total. There was concerning news that the unemployment rate for 16-24-year-olds has risen to 12.5% (547,000), an increase of 30,000 since the last quarter. Long-term unemployment has also risen by 23,000.

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA’s Chief Executive, said:

“The unexpected rise in unemployment by 46,000 over the last three months of 2017 is a cause for concern, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.4%.

Worryingly, youth unemployment has also continued to rise and is now at 12.5%, providing further evidence that the government needs a stronger and more coherent approach to supporting young people into work. Today’s figures demonstrate that far too many young people lack access to specialist employment support and addressing the youth employment gap must be a top government priority. It is clear the government must do more if it is to build an inclusive labour market for the future.’