Figures released today show almost one million young people are out of work

Tim Lezard

Unions have welcomed the fall in unemployment but say there are not enough jobs for  young people.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics released today show the jobless total fell by 14,000 between October and December to 2.5 million, but youth unemployment (counting 16 to 24-year-olds) rose by 11,000 to 974,000.

“It’s encouraging to see another fall in unemployment, but not everyone is benefiting from the recent jobs growth.

“The number of young people out of work is edging back up towards a million, so the Chancellor must put tackling our youth jobs crisis at the top of his Budget priority list. He can start by introducing a guarantee of paid work for any young person out of work for six months or longer.

“The further squeeze on people’s wages is also concerning. This is looking less like a temporary blip, and more like a longer-term problem for the economy.

“Without stronger growth, new jobs will continue to be concentrated in low-wage, low-productivity sectors and we won’t see the healthy pay rises that we so desperately need.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “When 1,700 people apply for just eight jobs in a Nottingham coffee shop, then there is something seriously wrong with employment in this country.

“Of course it is good news that more people are reportedly in work but the number of young unemployed people just keeps climbing, while wages fall and growing numbers of people need two jobs just to get by.

“This is no time for government to crow. The shocking waste of our young people’s talents, underemployment, poverty pay and bogus self employment are all indicators of an employment crisis, not a recovery.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These figures appear to show some relief after years of economic stagnation, but it is just an illusion. Real wages are continuing to fall, and youth unemployment is still rising. It is telling that more than 4 million people are now classed as self employed. If there are enough jobs to go around, why did 1,700 people apply for just 8 jobs at Costa Coffee?

“We will not experience a real recovery until people have more money to spend. For this to happen, the government has to take action to boost the number of full time, fairly paid jobs that are available. The Coalition’s failure to act makes the chances of a catastrophic triple-dip recession a near-certainty.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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