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Unemployment rates and levels of joblessness are higher today than before the recession in every region and nation of the UK and across all working age groups – suggesting that the economy is still less healthy than it was before the recession, the TUC warns today (Monday) ahead of the publication of the latest jobs figures later this week.

Unemployment rates and levels of joblessness are higher today than before the recession in every region and nation of the UK and across all working age groups – suggesting that the economy is still less healthy than it was before the recession, the TUC warns today (Monday) ahead of the publication of the latest jobs figures later this week.

The TUC analysis of official figures shows that half a million more people were unemployed in January-March 2014 (the latest available figures), compared to January-March 2008. Yorkshire and Humberside has the biggest jobs gap, with almost 100,000 more unemployed people today than before the recession.

Northern Ireland has the biggest gap between its current and pre-recession unemployment rates. Across Northern Ireland unemployment is currently running at 6.9 per cent, 68 per higher today than six years ago, when it was 4.1 per cent. The unemployment rates in Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber are 50 per cent higher today than before the recession.

The biggest unemployment gap by age group is among young people, with the number of unemployed 16-24 year olds 167,000 higher than six years ago. In the West Midlands for example, there are currently 20,000 more young people out of work than there were six years ago.

In most parts of the UK the jobs gaps for young people are higher than for any other age group. Unemployment levels are only lower now than six years ago amongst 16-24 year olds in the East Midlands and 35-49 year olds in Wales.

Much of the debate around unemployment has been about the rate falling below seven per cent – the trigger set by the Bank of England for possible interest rate rises. However, with over two million people still out of work – half a million higher than before the recession – and many more under-employed it remains far too early for the Bank of England to be considering an interest rate rise, says the TUC.

The number of unemployed people across the UK is still far in excess of pre-recession levels, in spite of the recent upturn in the jobs market, says the TUC. While the size of the economy is likely to return to pre-recession levels soon, unemployment levels are recovering much more slowly and the analysis shows that more needs to be done to get people back into work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The recent upturn in the economy has prompted lots of speculation about an increase in interest rates. Those hawks that are keen for interest rates to rise have forgotten that unemployment is still over two million.

“In some parts of the UK, unemployment is 50 per cent higher than it was before the recession. The talk in the City and around Westminster may be about a fast growing economy but the recovery still feels a good way off for millions of people still desperate for work across the rest of the country.

“The government should be doing more to get unemployment down in every part of the UK. High levels of youth joblessness are particularly concerning. The growing talk of an interest rise is a worrying distraction from this far bigger economic and social problem.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Unemployment levels by region and working age groups, January–March 2014

Region and nation

16-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

Total

North East

52,861

23,303

30,262

28,363

134,789

North West

97,426

62,402

51,582

47,921

259,331

Yorkshire and the Humber

82,649

50,008

52,854

33,192

218,703

East Midlands

54,234

38,246

38,015

21,243

151,738

West Midlands

84,304

47,304

46,903

31,359

209,870

Eastern

66,331

37,610

37,865

26,189

167,995

London

95,838

93,534

88,568

46,182

324,122

South East

92,109

36,622

50,187

47,142

226,060

South West

51,505

19,695

34,888

26,981

133,069

Wales

37,473

24,309

18,010

16,088

95,880

Scotland

71,546

31,186

34,097

31,940

168,769

Northern Ireland

22,519

13,515

17,086

8,954

62,074

Total

808,795

477,734

500,317

365,554

2,152,400

 

Increase in unemployment levels, January–March 2008 to January–March 2014

Region and nation

16-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

Total

North East

22,616

7,801

8,404

18,063

56,884

North West

15,463

16,925

4,205

18,547

55,140

Yorkshire and the Humber

31,339

27,568

18,993

17,125

95,025

East Midlands

-1,314

13,379

11,493

3,302

26,860

West Midlands

20,508

18,888

2,413

4,837

46,646

Eastern

12,424

15,904

2,904

1,798

33,030

London

2,093

27,564

15,122

15,267

60,046

South East

21,803

874

7,523

23,354

53,554

South West

11,240

4,918

10,225

12,400

38,783

Wales

8,856

12,490

-2,862

4,598

23,082

Scotland

15,380

8,830

3,246

17,206

44,662

Northern Ireland

6,679

4,934

8,309

4,458

24,380

Total

167,087

160,075

89,975

140,955

558,092

 

Unemployment rate by region and nation, March 2008–March 2014

Region and nation    

March 2008 (per cent)

March 2014 (per cent )

Difference

North East

7.2

9.8

36%

North West

6.2

7.6

23%

Yorkshire and Humberside

5.5

8.2

49%

East Midlands

5.5

6.1

11%

West Midlands

6.4

7.5

17%

Eastern

4.6

5.3

15%

London

7.0

7.5

7%

South East

3.8

4.8

26%

South West

4.0

4.9

23%

Wales

5.4

6.6

22%

Scotland

4.4

6.6

50%

Northern Ireland

4.1

6.9

68%

- Source: Office for National Statistics

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