A record number of young people are out of work, latest figures show, as unemployment soars by 49,000 to 2.5 million.
One-in-five 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed after an increase of 32,000 in the quarter to November to 951,000 – the highest figure since records began in 1992.
Employment levels have fallen, redundancies have increased and the number of people classed as economically inactive has reached 9.3 million, the data reveals.
Prime Minster David Cameron said the figures were “very disappointing” and were a matter for “huge concern” for his government.
We went on to point out there was a 4,100 fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance last month to 1.46 million.
At Prime Minister’s Question Time, Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of cutting public spending “too far and too fast”, adding that the British people were “paying the price”.
The Prime Minister said the government were working hard to counter the rise in unemployment.
“We are launching the biggest back-to-work programme that this country has ever seen in the Work Programme,” he said.
Mr Cameron added: “The biggest task for this Government and frankly for this country is to get to grips with the long-term structural problem of youth unemployment that has been going up for years in our country, and that went up by 40 per cent under Labour.”
The figures released today also stated there were 157,000 redundancies in the last quarter, up to 14,000 on the previous three months.
The inactivity rate is now 23.4 per cent after an 89,000 increase in the number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those looking after a sick relative and people who have given up looking for a job.
The number of people who have taken retirement before reaching 65 increased by 39,000 to 1.56 million, the highest figure since records began in 1993.
Employment fell by 69,000 to 29 million, the biggest drop since the summer of 2009.
Public sector employment fell by 33,000 to six million between last June and September, while the number of private sector employees remained unchanged at 23 million.
Long-term unemployment – those out of work for more than a year – rose by 15,000 to 836,000.
Other data showed that average earnings rose by 2.1 per cent in the year to November, unchanged from the previous month.
Average weekly pay in November was £455, up by 2.1 per cent on a year earlier.