OFFICIAL unemployment figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday, revealed that nearly two-and-a-half million people remain unemployed, one million of them youth.
The figures showed a marked increase in the numbers of long-term unemployed and a sharp rise in women unemployed.
The ONS said that 2.46 million are registered unemployed, a rate of 7.7 per cent.
Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds stood at 935,000, with the jobless rate for young people now at 20 per cent.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 12,400 in April to 1.47 million, the ONS said.
Of the 12,400 extra people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, 9,300 were women, the highest figure since October 1996.
The number of male claimants rose for the first time since January.
The number of people unemployed for more than 12 months increased by 20,000 to 850,000, the highest number since January 1997.
April saw the number of women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance increase for the tenth time in a row, up by 9,300 on March, to 474,400, the highest figure since October 1996.
In London unemployment rose by 6,000 and by 4,000 in the North East.
Young Socialist National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye reacted angrily to the massive youth unemployment.
He said: ‘Youth are not going to put up with this. We don’t accept unemployment and we don’t accept the cowardly do-nothing policies of the trade union leaders.
‘The Young Socialists March for Jobs and Free State Education from Manchester to London at the end of last year was just the start.
‘We’re not going to rest until the TUC is forced to call a general strike to bring this government down and we go forward to a socialist future where there will be jobs for all.’
Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: ‘Women and young people are bearing the brunt of this government’s failed economic policies.
‘Despite the small fall in youth unemployment, there are still nearly one million young people out of work.
‘And unless the government takes action, their futures will be blighted.
‘As public sector job losses gather pace, the number of women out of work will keep on rising.
‘This is a huge backwards step for equality, and a direct hit on families who are already struggling to cope.
‘There is an alternative economic approach. This government must take the blinkers off, stop the hard and fast cuts, and take decisive action to protect jobs, services and recovery.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber claimed: ‘Today’s figures are good news for those looking for work, with employment up and unemployment down.’
He continued: ‘But new jobs are not being shared around evenly.
‘Merthyr Tydfil is now the hardest place in Britain to find a job, followed by the Scottish industrial heartlands and inner London, where over twenty dole claimants are chasing every vacancy.
‘With spending cuts just starting to take effect and expected to lead to heavy job losses later this year, we are still concerned that the good news may not last for much longer.’