New unemployment figures cast doubts over green shoots

More bad news for those trawling through the papers in search of jobs: it looks as though those green shoots which have been spoken about with such alacrity over the past couple of weeks might not quite have filtered through to the jobs market.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today, unemployment has risen to 7.2% - the highest rate since July 1997.

The number of vacancies have also dropped significantly, from 659,000 in May 2008 to 424,000 in May this year – a drop of more than a third.

While unemployment has affected the whole population, young people are the worst hit: almost 17% of 18-24 yea-olds are looking for work, the highest since 1993.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, pointed out today that the figures indicate the British economy might not quite be out of the water yet.

“These jobless figures are slightly better than feared, but the overall situation remains grim. Jobs are being lost relentlessly and may businesses are facing a major threat to their skills base,” he said.

“It is much too early to talk about the end of the recession and it’s important not to withdraw the policy stimulus before there is firmer evidence that the economy has stabilised. The government should consider easing harmful labour market regulations that are adding to pressure on businesses.”

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