Unemployment increased again in the West Midlands in the last quarter – albeit slightly – as joblessness reached a 17-year high across the country.
A series of grim figures delivered a pre-Christmas blow to the Government, with youth and female unemployment showing big rises and the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance increasing for the ninth month in a row.
In the West Midlands, a total of 243,000 people are now out of work – an increase of 4,000 – meaning an unemployment rate of 9.2 per cent.
Across the UK, another 128,000 joined the jobless ranks, taking the total to 2.64 million and travel giant Thomas Cook added to the gloom by announcing more than 600 job losses and 115 shop closures.
Employment fell by 63,000 in the quarter to October to 29.11 million, while the number of people working in the public sector dipped below six million for the first time since 2003.
The unemployment rate is now 8.3 per cent, up 0.4 per cent on the quarter - the highest since 1996 - while the jobless total is now worse than at any time since 1994.
Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 54,000 to 1.03 million, the highest since records began in 1992.
The Office for National Statistics also reported that women’s unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest figure since 1988.
The number of people out of work for longer than a year rose by 19,000 in the latest quarter to 868,000, the worst figure since 1996.
Jobseeker’s allowance claimants increased by 3,000 last month to 1.6 million, the ninth consecutive monthly rise and the highest total since the start of 2010.
The number of job vacancies fell by 8,000 to 455,000, while 161,000 people were made redundant in the three months to October, down by 1,000 on the previous quarter.
The number of economically-inactive people, including students, those on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative, or who have given up looking for a job, fell by 54,000 to 9.33 million.
Public sector employment fell by 67,000 in the third quarter of the year to 5.9 million, including 59,000 in local government and 9,000 in the civil service.
Private sector employment increased by 5,000 to 23.1 million.
Average earnings increased by 2 per cent in the year to October, down by 0.3 per cent on the previous month, taking average weekly pay to £464.