Unemployment rose in the final quarter of 2011 by 48,000 to reach 2.67 million according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate, at 8.4%, is at its highest level since 1995, 16 years ago. But for those aged between 16 and 14 the unemployment rate is 22.2% with 1.04 million jobless young people.

But the employment figures have also gone up with those aged between 16 and 64 in work rising 60,000 over the quarter to 29.13 million, an increase of 0.1%.

The reason for these seemingly contradictory statements is that the numbers of people aged between 16 and 64 who are economically inactive fell by 78,000 (0.2%) over the quarter and now stands at 9.29 million.

The quarterly fall in the economic inactivity rate was due, says the ONS, to a fall of 55,000 people in the long term sick category. The number of people in this category now stands at 2.11 million, the lowest number for over 16 years (May 1995).

Looking at Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – the total number of people claiming JSA increased by 6,900 in January over December to reach 1.6 million. This was made up of an increase of 5,400 males (to 1.07 million) and 1,500 females (to 531,700) the highest figure since mid 1995.

1.35 million people are now working part-time because they cannot find full time jobs, which is up by 83,000 over the last three months of 2011. This has also helped to increase the employment total.

Total pay was up 2% on the previous year.

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