Latest Figures Show Rise in Unemployment

The number of people unemployed in the UK rose by 70,000 between December and February, to a total of 2.56 million, according to the employment figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There was also a small fall in the number of people in employment – down 2,000 between September to November 2012 and December 2012 to February 2013. There were 29.7 million people aged 16 and over in employment and the employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 was 71.4 per cent.

Some positive news was a fall in the overall number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – a drop of 7,000 between February and March 2013, to 1.53 million. However there was an increase in the number of people aged 50 and over claiming JSA, up 900 from February to a total of 256,500.

Employment Minister, Mark Hoban, admitted there are still “tough challenges ahead” but welcomed the fall in the number of people claiming JSA.

There was a mixed picture for the over 50s with a rise of 58,000 to a record 7.64 million (67.1%) 50-64 year olds in employment, over the past 3 months. Once again, the increase was split in favour of women, with an increase of 44,000 for women and only 14,000 for men.

The number of people aged 65 and over and in work remained the same as the previous quarter, at 967,000.

There was a rise of 5,000 in 50+ unemployment to a total of 401,000, with the increase felt solely by women (up 17,000 to 149,000) compared with a fall in unemployment for men in the same age group (down 12,000 to 252,000).

There was also a fall of 8,000 (to 180,000) in the number of over 50s who have been unemployed for 12 months or longer, but the 50+ remain the highest proportion in any age group affected by long term unemployment (44.9%).

Chris Jessop, Managing Director of Axa PPP healthcare’s health services division, said:

“Today’s news that the number of people over 65 in employment has risen to 967,000 presents employers with both an opportunity and a challenge.

“In one respect it’s good news - experienced workers can continue to add value, potentially playing an important mentoring role to less experienced colleagues. But on the other hand, there is the issue of health, as it’s understood that our health deteriorates as we age, which can result in higher worker absence rates via sick leave.”

It should be noted however, that older workers on average take less short-term sickness abscence than their younger counterparts.