Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that unemployment levels in the UK have fallen by 65,000, which may be welcome news as the government struggles to meet the costs of unemployment benefits.
In the last quarter, unemployment fell by 65,000 to 2.58 million, a 0.2% decrease. The ONS has attributed the rise in employment to the 2012 Olympic Games, as many new jobs have been created in preparation for the summer’s event. A particular area of interest is around 16-24 year olds, where unemployment has fallen by 10,000 to 1.02 million.
The Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling said:
"This is an encouraging set of figures in what is still an incredibly difficult economic climate. Not only is unemployment falling but in overall terms there are now almost 100,000 less people on benefits since the 2010 election. We still have a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction."
However, while unemployment figures have gone down, there is concern that the positive effect of the Olympics is only temporary and will not improve long-term employment figures.
The General Secretary of UNISON, Dave Prentis, said:
“Sadly the unemployed cannot and the government should not take comfort from these figures. The Olympic effect may give the impression of a recovery, but it is a mirage. The number of long-term unemployed is still rising, and huge numbers of women and young people are still struggling to find work.”
“The government has to take evasive action. We need an alternative plan for sustainable jobs and economic growth, to put the country back on the road to recovery.”
So, while it seems that figures are moving in the direction of economic growth, employment figures could plummet again once the demand for Olympics workers has ceased.