Record unemployment 'caused by eurozone crisis'

16 Nov 11
The government has blamed the eurozone crisis for the latest rise in UK unemployment, which is now at its highest for 17 years.

By Nick Mann | 16 November 2011

The government has blamed the eurozone crisis for the latest rise in UK unemployment, which is now at its highest for 17 years.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that 1.02 million 16–24 year-olds were out of work in the three months to September, the first time youth unemployment has topped 1 million since records began. The young jobless rate is now 21.9%.

The overall number of unemployed people increased by 129,000 over the quarter to reach 2.62 million. This puts the jobless rate for the three months to September at 8.3% of the economically active population, the highest since January 1996.

Commenting on the figures, employment minister Chris Grayling said: ‘These figures show just how much our economy is being affected by the crisis in the eurozone. Our European partners must take urgent action to stabilise the position.

‘Our challenge in the Autumn Statement will put in place additional measures to support growth and create employment opportunities, especially for young people.’

The Department for Work and Pensions added that the government was ‘determined’ to tackle youth unemployment. It said measures launched already would get 350,000 young people back into work in the next two years.

In particular, it highlighted the impact of sector-based work academies and work experience, as well as its welfare-to-work initiative the Work Programme and plans to expand the apprenticeships programme.

As part of this, Business Secretary Vince Cable today announced a £1,500 payment to small companies that take on their first apprentice, if that person is aged under 25. The government estimates that this scheme will increase the number of young apprentices by around 20,000.

But the Institute for Public Policy and Research said there was no new funding for this initiative, with the £30m cost coming from within the previously announced £1.4bn apprenticeships budget.

Tony Dolphin, the IPPR’s chief economist, called on the government to do more to tackle rising youth unemployment.

‘It should introduce a job guarantee, paid at the minimum wage or above, to any young person who has been out of work and claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance for more than a year, matched by an obligation to take up the offer or find an alternative that does not involve claiming JSA,’ he said.


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