Unemployment edges towards 2.5m

The number of people out of work grew by 88,000 to 2.47m in the three months to August, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment benefit claimant numbers rose in September by 20,800 to 1.63m.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says that unemployment is rising at a much slower pace than expected in the three months to August, confirming that the recession is ending.

However, Kern warns: “There is no room for complacency, and a sustainable recovery is not guaranteed.

“Although confidence is strengthening, businesses are still facing serious pressures, particularly small and medium sized firms. Lending is still too weak, and many are struggling to retain their skills base.”

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper says: “Although unemployment isn’t as high today as many feared it would be at the time of the Budget, it remains a serious problem, which is why we must keep increasing support and advice to get people back into jobs. We will not leave them on their own.”

Recruitment and Employment Confederation director of external relations Tom Hadley says: “Acquiring practical experience – in particular through temporary assignments – can help young job-seekers to differentiate themselves in a hugely competitive labour market. This further strengthens our arguments for the government focus on stimulating recruitment activity through tax incentives and by avoiding a heavy-handed and premature implementation of new employment regulations such as the EU Agency Workers Directive.”