Mixed labour market figures highlight need to boost growth and productivity

20th March 2013

n the three months to January 2013 unemployment rose by 7,000 while employment increased by 131,000 Youth unemployment showed a significant increase of 48,000, and is again approaching the 1m mark In the fourth quarter of 2012 public sector employment fell by 20,000, while the number of people employed in the private sector increased by 151,000  Commenting on the labour market figures published today by the ONS, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:   -Despite the slight rise in unemployment, it is encouraging to see that conditions in the UK jobs market remain robust.

Employment continued to grow and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has declined. This could suggest that the official GDP figures are overly pessimistic, as they do not seem to tally with either employment figures or our own business surveys.   "Ultimately, the unemployment figures provide further evidence that businesses are doing all they can to support growth and create and retain jobs at a time when the economy remains weak. This is largely due to both businesses and employees retaining flexibility in UK workforces, which they should be commended for. But although businesses are resilient and confident about the months ahead, they can't do it alone. The government must go all out in the name of growth, and do much more to support the ambitions of UK companies, many of whom will be the wealth creators of tomorrow.   David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:   -Following a long period of decline, UK unemployment saw a small increase in the three months to January. There was also a surge in youth unemployment, which takes the total back up to near the one million mark. Despite this, the UK labour market is showing remarkable strength. Employment is up by more than 131,000, inactivity is down and the private sector has yet again proved it is capable of creating jobs while the public sector shrinks. But unless growth drastically improves, the private sector may not be able to continue creating enough jobs to meet the needs of the economy.   -The positive message we can take from these figures is that British business is able to drive the recovery despite the challenges still facing the economy, both at home and abroad. However, we still need a clear and effective growth strategy that combines deregulation, measures to support exporters and the early creation of a business bank if we stand a chance of seeing a lasting recovery in the UK.

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