THE rate of unemployment in the UK has risen from 7.1% to 7.2% the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed yesterday.
The ONS figures will come as a surprise as economists expected unemployment to hold steady at 7.1% or fall to 7%.
The rise in unemployment rate is likely to raise questions about the sustainability of the economic recovery.
What David Cameron is celebrating is that the number of people successfully claiming the jobseeker’s allowance fell by another 27,600 in January to 1.22 million, its 15th consecutive monthly drop.
According to the ONS, the rate of unemployment in the three months to December fell by 0.4% on the previous quarter, bringing it to 7.2%.
The number of people in part-time jobs now stands at 1.4 million, 46,000 higher than a year ago.
The number of people classed as ‘economically inactive’, remains just under nine million.
The number of registered unemployed is now 2.34 million.
Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis said: ‘In some parts of the country unemployment is still growing and underemployment is now a bitter reality for millions of struggling families across the UK.
‘Too many people are stuck in minimum wage jobs, on zero hours contracts and part-time work when they are desperate to go full-time.
‘Desperate because they need regular, secure employment to feed their families without having to resort to foodbanks, pay their bills without falling into the grip of pay-day lenders and decent pay to rebuild consumer confidence and grow the economy.
‘Growing the economy means giving more workers across the UK a boost to their earnings.’
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: ‘We are still faced with a lost generation of lost hopes and lost potential with one in four 16-24 year olds still out of work.
‘Behind the figures are hundreds of thousands of young people desperately looking to kick-start their career and get a job.
‘Like the 1,300 who, last week applied in desperation for just six jobs making coffee or the many thousands who have graduated lumbered with horrendous debt, but simply cannot get that vital first job.
‘And outside of London, our regions continue to be failed by the government’s economic policy – regions like the north east where unemployment is 10 per cent, hit hard by public sector cuts and with more to come.
‘In real Britain, living standards continue to fall as wages remain anaemic and ordinary families struggle to get by. Work in this country simply does not pay for millions of people.
‘It is often insecure, low-waged with people being forced to work part-time when they urgently need a full-time wage.
‘For the first time we have more people in work in poverty than out; how can that be termed by any measure a success?’