No joy on jobless figures 
The latest unemployment figures are just out and they make pretty grim reading, particularly if you are aged 16 to 24.

Overall, the jobless total rose by 49,000 for the three months to November 2010, to stand at 2.5 million.

A particular concern will be that 16 to 24-year-olds accounted for 32,000 of the 49,000 newly unemployed. The overall unemployment rate is 7.9 per cent: for people in the 16-24 age group, it stands at a disturbing 20.3 per cent, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

In total, 951,000 young people are now unemployed, also the highest figure since 1992. Overall, the only glimmer of good news appears to be that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 4,100 between November and December.

The news came as the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank warned that jobless levels could rise in 2011.

Tony Dolphin, IPPR chief economist, said there was a real risk that UK economic growth would not grow fast enough this year to bring down unemployment, which could reach “new highs” for this economic downturn.

If that is the case, another piece of news today may leave some of us questioning how well equipped the service that helps people to get back into work will be to assist them.

According to reports, Jobcentre Plus is to axe 9,300 jobs by March 2013 as part of budget cuts. The Department for Work and Pensions says the reductions will be aimed at making job centres "cost-effective", with the majority of posts going through what it hoped would be "natural turnover".

It also says the reductions will not affect frontline services: which probably comes as rather cold comfort to the Jobcentre Plus employees soon to be joining the ranks of their former customers.

For more information, please visit www.harwoodhutton.co.uk

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