Unexpected Rise in Jobless Rate To 7.2%
The jobless rate in Britain has risen to 7.2% despite the total number of people out of work dropping, according to officially released data.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate was up between October and December, however the total number of people in unemployment fell by 125,000.
The jobless rate rose by 0.1% compared with the previous period, taking it further away from the Bank of England target of 7%.
The ONS said the total number of those out of work in the period was 2.34 million.
Meanwhile, it said the level of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in January fell by 27,600 to 1.22 million.
It added that more women are in now in employment than at any period since records were started in 1971.
Slightly more than 14 million women have jobs, the data showed, out of a total of more than 30 million workers.
The full employment rate across the population is now 0.6% higher than the same period a year earlier.
Northern Ireland and the South West recorded rises in jobless numbers, while the North East has the highest unemployed rate in the country at 10%.
Some 1.4 million people in the nation are stuck in part-time jobs instead of finding full-time work.
That was a drop of 29,000 over the latest quarter but still 46,000 higher than a year ago.
Employment minister Esther McVey told Sky News: "What we do know is the trend of unemployment going down and employment going up.
"And we've seen record numbers of women in work. That has got to be good news."
The data also showed that youth and long-term unemployment have both fallen, although there was only a minor move in the number of people classed as economically inactive.
Nearly nine million people are deemed to be be in this group and the figure includes those on long-term sick leave, students, carers for sick relatives, or those no longer looking for jobs.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on social media: "It's good to see another fall in unemployment. Our long term economic plan means more people with the security of a wage and a chance in life."
But shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: "While today's fall in overall unemployment is welcome, the Government must not be complacent.
"More than 900,000 young people are still unemployed and over 250,000 young people have been unemployed for over a year."
General secretary of Unison Dave Prentis added: "Sadly, today's fall in the total number of unemployed masks the scourge of under-employment, which is growing at an alarming rate across the country.
"Too many people are stuck in minimum-wage jobs, on zero-hours contracts and part-time work when they are desperate to go full-time."
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