UK unemployment has risen by 27,000 in the three months to the end of January to 2.53 million, the highest figure since 1994.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday that the jobless rate was now eight per cent, the highest since 1996.
However, the ONS figures also showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 10,200 in February to 1.45 million, reflecting the systematic persecution endured by benefit claimants.
A record high was reached in the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds, up by 0.8 per cent to 20.6.
Public sector employment fell 45,000 in the final quarter of 2010 to 6.2 million, even before the impact of the government’s spending cuts starts to take effect.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘Youth unemployment is at record levels and unemployment is the highest in 17 years and will continue to get worse.
‘It’s outrageous for Chris Grayling (Employment Secretary) to claim there is some good news in these figures.
‘Only a party that is completely out of touch with what is really happening to Britain would try to claim there is hope in its economic policies.
‘There is no good news only the tragedy of a lost generation of young people.
‘The government’s aloof response to mounting unemployment will give no confidence that it is committed to growth, or it understands that not only is it stimulating unemployment, it is also stimulating a rise in insecure work.
‘It is not just joblessness we need to fear but job insecurity and low waged work. How can this be deemed growth?’
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘The government’s cuts driven policies are driving the country into the ground.
‘They are failing our young people, with 16-24 year olds facing a future without the hope of a decent job – an abandoned generation, collateral damage of the government’s failing economic policy.
‘The cuts in local government are biting even harder now, with another 24,000 jobs lost.
‘When jobs disappear communities lose essential services such as home care, day care centres and libraries.
‘It’s time for the government to think again about the downward direction they are taking the country’.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary said: ‘There is widespread revulsion that the government is deliberately adding to the dole queues at a time when the economy has not recovered from the ‘bankers recession’.
‘Unemployment is not a price worth paying as we learned during the Thatcher years.’
The Tory-LibDem coalition government is not going to ‘change course’, or ‘think again’.
It must be brought down through an indefinite general strike, and must be replaced by a workers government which will implement socialist policies.