YOUTH unemployment has risen by another 20,000 to very nearly one million, according to figures issued by the Office for National Statistics yesterday.
The number of unemployed workers aged 16-to-24 increased to 979,000, representing more than one in five (21.1%) of that age group.
Total UK unemployment rose by 70,000 to 2.56 million between December and February, the ONS said, making it a 7.9% unemployment rate for the quarter.
However, remarkably, despite the huge increase in unemployment, the number of people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 7,000 to 1.53 million, implying that thousands have had their allowance removed or been prevented from receiving it.
Also, the ONS said, with the official inflation rate running at 2.8%, average pay rose by just 1%, the lowest rate since records began more than a decade ago.
The ONS data revealed that 900,000 people have been out of work for more than a year, an 8,000 increase on the three months to November.
The GMB condemned the 70,000 unemployment increase, especially the rises among young people and those out of work for more than a year.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘That there are more than two and a half million out of work in the UK in the sixth year of a recession shows the sheer waste of human talent that prevails every day.
‘Nearly a million of these are young workers seeking work.’
Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: ‘This rise in unemployment is further proof that the Chancellor has lost his grip on the economy.
‘Every job lost is a personal tragedy and yet compared to pre-crisis levels, there are a million more people facing the misery of unemployment in the UK.
‘The government has failed every single one of these people.’
He added: ‘And the consequences of holding down public sector pay are being felt on the high street, local shops and businesses are suffering because workers have nothing left at the end of the month.’
The University and College Union (UCU) general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The jobs market is incredibly tough at the moment and young people are suffering the most, as they typically do in difficult times.
‘The government has to improve access to education and jobs to avoid relegating thousands of people to the fringes of society.’
Joshua Ogunleye, National Secretary of the Young Socialists, condemned soaring youth unemployment yesterday.
He said: ‘We are right on the brink of one million unemployed young people.
‘Under this government and under this system their future is zero.
‘This is why the Young Socialists have called a mass lobby of the Trade Union Congress General Council next Wednesday morning.
‘They are due to discuss calling a one-day general strike to protest at the government’s mass unemployment and austerity policies.
‘We demand an indefinite general strike. Youth and workers want this government out and want a workers government and socialism in.
‘Make sure you are there with us on Wednesday morning.’