Latest ONS data shows rise in UK unemployment

By Nick Batten on 26 February, 2018

The number of unemployed people in the UK rose to 1.47 million in the last quarter of 2017 according to February 2018 figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS labour market statistics found that despite this rise – which was an increase of 46,000 more than for July to September 2017- the figures for unemployment were still “123,000 fewer” than the previous year (2016).

Meanwhile, the statistics showed that the number of people in work continued to rise to 32.15 million – 88,000 more than July to September 2017 and 321,000 more than the previous year.

The figures also revealed that average weekly earnings had risen by 2.5 percent in the last quarter of 2017.

Ian Larrard, director of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, Business West, remarked: “The latest labour market data paints a mixed picture, what with rises both in the number of people employed and unemployed in the last quarter.

“There was a welcome pick-up in pay growth, however, it continues to be outpaced by inflation. The continued rise in job vacancies is perhaps the most concerning, particularly for Swindon and Wiltshire.”

He explained: “There is a chronic skills shortage faced by businesses across the UK, the lack of available workers with the right skills continues to be a drag on overall business activity and more must be done to address it nationally.”

Commenting on the findings, Michelle Dewberry, a former winner of TV’s The Apprentice and ambassador to University Technical Colleges (UTCs), said: “As UK unemployment rates rise, I believe that we need to protect future jobs by updating the education system. We must ensure that we’re best preparing young people for the workplace by equipping them with relevant technical and employability skills.

“With technology changing UK businesses at a rapid rate, it is more important than ever to engage employers to discover the types of skills they look for and expect they will need moving forward.”

She added: “UTCs work with more than 450 employers to ensure their students’ education is relevant to the world of work. They ensure that leavers have the necessary skillset to compete in the job market, and for apprenticeships and university places.”