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Unemployment hits women, public sector & the North

Think tanks calls for infrastructure spend to boost northern economy

Analysis of recent unemployment figures, by the think tank IPPR, shows that unemployment has now risen for the ninth month in a row, up 28,000. The UK’s unemployment rate (8.4 per cent) remains the worst for 17 years, since 1995.

But behind these headlines, IPPR analysis shows that two thirds of the rise in unemployment over the last quarter has hit women, with 22,400 more women out of work and 5,200 more men.

  • More than a million women (1,126,000) are now unemployed, the second highest since for 25 years and a rise of 85,000 over the last year
  • Of those, over a quarter (27%) of women (308,000) have been unemployed for more than a year, a rise of 30,000 over the last year

Young people continue to be hit hard:

  • More than a million (1,042,000) young people (aged 16-24) are now unemployed, the second highest since comparable records began in 1992, and a rise of 67,600 in the last year
  • 253,000 young people (aged 16-24) have been unemployed for more than a year. An increase of 24,900 over the last year.

Long-term unemployment remains worryingly high:

  • Overall, 855,000 people have been unemployed for more than a year - almost a third of all jobseekers
  • Almost half a million (428,000) people over 50 are now unemployed, up 37,300 in the last year
  • More than 40 per cent of unemployed over fifties have been out of work for more than a year, up 14,600 from the last quarter to 185,000

Across the country:

  • North East - 138,000 unemployed - down 11,000 – but still 10.8%
  • London - 433,000 unemployed - up 11,000 – to 10.2%
  • Yorkshire/Humber - 261,000 unemployed - up 9,000 – to 9.8%
  • North West - 317,000 unemployed - up 16,000 – to 9.3%
  • Wales - 134,000 unemployed - up 1,000 – to 9.1%
  • West Midlands - 241,000 unemployed - down 1,000 – but still 9.1%
  • Scotland - 234,000 unemployed - up 6,000 – to 8.7%
  • East Midlands - 187,000 unemployed - up 5,000 – to 8.2%
  • East - 208,000 unemployed - down 10,000 – to 6.8%
  • Northern Ireland - 56,000 unemployed - down 4,000 – to 6.5%
  • South East - 287,000 unemployed - up 14,000 – to 6.5%
  • South West - 169,000 unemployed - down 8,000 – to 6.3%

IPPR North analysis shows the number of unemployed people compared to a year ago is:

  • up 20 per cent in the North West (53,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 9 per cent in the North East (11,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 9 per cent in London (37,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 13 per cent in East of England (24,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 8 per cent in Wales (10,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 6 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber (16,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 8 per cent in Scotland (18,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 3 per cent in East Midlands (5,000 more people unemployed)
  • up 2 per cent in South East (7,000 more people unemployed)
  • down 8 per cent in West Midlands (22,000 fewer people unemployed
  • down 0.08% in the South West (150 fewer people unemployed)

Ed Cox, IPPR North Director, said:

“When it announced cuts to public spending, the Government said it expected the private sector to fill the gap left when public demand was withdrawn from the economy. Today's figures show this is not happening. As a consequence, unemployment in the North and among women is rising sharply.

“Evidence from surveys conducted in the second half of 2011 suggests many companies responded to last year's downturn in demand by cutting back on recruitment. Contrary to the Government's hopes, the tough fiscal stance has not led to a resurgence of activity in the private sector. On the contrary, companies have responded to talk of austerity by becoming more cautious and increasing employment at a slower pace. We need Government investment in infrastructure in the north to kick start growth across the country.”

In the latest twelve months (to December 2011), public sector employment contracted by 270,000, while private sector employment increased by only 226,000. Although figures for the last three months are better - public sector employment down 37,000; private sector employment up 45,000 - the private sector is not creating jobs fast enough to offset the cuts in the public sector and the growth of the workforce. As a consequence, unemployment is increasing. This contrasts with the picture a year ago. Over the twelve months to December 2010, public sector employment contracted by 140,000, while private sector employment increased by 457,000.

Notes to Editors

Unemployment figures published today are available from:

 IPPR’s report – Jobs for the Future: The path back to full employment in the UK - is available from

IPPR’s report – 10 ways to promote growth – is available from

IPPR’s report - Making the case for universal childcare – is available to download from:


Richard Darlington, 07525 481 602,

Tim Finch, 07595 920899,

Tamsin Crimmens, 07800 742 262,


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