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Rise in unemployment is slowing

PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:00 01 August 2010

Adam Aiken, deputy business editor

There was a glimmer of hope on the jobs front today with the smallest rise in unemployment figures for a year and a half.

There was a glimmer of hope on the jobs front today with the smallest rise in unemployment figures for a year and a half.

In the three months to October, unemployment nationally rose by 21,000 to 2.49 million, the highest level since early 1995. In the east of England, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.6pc.

But as well as the slowdown in the rate of increase across the country, there was also slightly brighter news on a regional basis. In separate figures released today, the seasonally unadjusted data showed there was a rise of 365 people in Norfolk claiming jobseeker's allowance in the four weeks to November 12. The equivalent figure last year saw a rise of 1,312.

However, the government will be most concerned about the national youth unemployment figures, which is the highest figure since records began in 1992. The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work was 952,000 in the three months to October, a quarterly rise of 6,000. Chancellor Alistair Darling emphasised his priority in tackling the youth unemployment issue in the pre-budget report he delivered last week.

Work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It is still tough for a lot of people and we still expect unemployment to increase again in the new year, so we are determined to do more, supporting a total of 400,000 extra youth opportunities over the next 18 months.”

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “It will be a bleak Christmas in the households of the unemployed and of those who have lost their jobs in this bankers' recession.

“It could have been a lot worse if there had not been a Labour government in office to sustain the level of economic activity by public spending.”

For a full regional breakdown of the latest unadjusted figures, see tomorrow's EDP.

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