TOTAL unemployment stood at 2.46 million for the three months to December, down 3,000 on the figure for the previous three months.
However, long-term unemployment, covering those out of work for more than a year, rose by 37,000 to 663,000, the highest figure since 1997.
And the number of people claiming the Jobseekers Allowance climbed by 23,500 to 1.64 million in January.
That was the largest increase since July last year – with bourgeois analysts having expected the number of claimants to fall by about 10,000.
This figure, in fact, showed that the numbers of the newly unemployed are rising fast, since many of the new unemployed will have been refused the Jobseekers Allowance for one reason or another.
With the numbers of long term unemployed rising as well, the secret of the government’s claimed overall fall is the numbers of workers who are taken off benefit after being forced to take very low paid, part time work.
The rate of unemployment was unchanged at 7.8%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Rising part-time employment over the last three months of 2009 had actually offset a 37,000 fall in the number employed full-time.
The rise in the claimant count points to further big rises in joblessness.
John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development commented that the situation ‘Indicates that the labour market was quite weak at the turn of the year and it might presage further bad news for the reminder of the first half of the year.’
Philpott added: ‘Rising levels of people who were underemployed – working part-time when they would prefer to work full-time – gave ‘a much richer account of the degree to which this recession has impacted on the workforce’.
He concluded that ‘With a weak economic recovery set to result in further job losses in the coming months, it is highly likely that the unemployment situation will get worse before it starts to get significantly better.’
The number of workers in temporary jobs climbed to 1.434 million, up from 1.427 million in the previous three months.
The report also said 34.6% of people working on a temporary basis had said they had failed to find permanent work. This figure was up from 32.8%.
The number of men who said they had been forced to take temporary work rose by 9.2% from the previous quarter.
There were 37,000 more people (3.7%) who said they had taken a part-time job because they could not find full-time employment.
The ONS figures showed that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work fell over the three-month period between October and December, down to 923,000 from 936,000 in the previous three months.
The percentage of people neither employed nor looking for work, and who are not counted as unemployed by the ONS, rose to 21.3%.
This group includes students, long-term sick or disabled people, the temporarily sick or injured, and people who have retired early or are looking after their family and home.
These figures can only worsen. A big factor in driving unemployment upwards will be the next government’s slashing attacks on the public sector, when hundreds of thousands of workers will be sacked in order to cut the UK’s £178bn budget deficit.
Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said that unemployment had been much lower than expected last year, partly because employees had been prepared to take pay cuts to stay in work.
Among those who took pay cuts and are now about to be sacked are the Teesside Corus workers, Cadbury workers who have been taken over by Kraft, and hundreds of UK GM workers.
Cooper added, ‘We expect further increases in unemployment before the summer.’
In fact working class anger is rising and workers want action to defend jobs. They must force the TUC to call a general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.