Commenting on the labour market statistics, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:
“The labour market figures are disappointing, but unsurprising. Despite the fairly large rise in unemployment, the number of those in jobs has remained almost unchanged. The level of inactivity fell by 57,000 in the three months to February as more people returned to the workforce, and this contributed to the increase in unemployment. Although the UK labour market remains surprisingly robust, overall the outlook is uncertain. It is realistic to expect further increases in the jobless total if the private sector is able to only absorb some of the expected reductions in public sector employment. In our recent forecast, we predicted that unemployment would increase to 2.6 million in 2014.
“The challenging circumstances facing the economy make it doubly important to develop a more effective growth strategy. The government should switch priorities to boost growth within the existing spending envelope, and make greater use of its own fiscal mandate, which gives it more latitude than it has so far used in increasing infrastructure investment.”