Unemployment up sharply

The increase in the number of people out of work was 164,000, the sharpest rise since 1991, which means there are now 1,790,000 unemployed.

The figures worryingly showed a decline to 74.4% in the working age employment rate with 122,000 (0.4%) fewer people working at the end of the quarter.

The claimant count was 939,900 an increase of 31,800 from the previous quarter, while the number of job vacancies declined by 40,000 to 608,000.

Growth in annual earnings with and without bonuses both decreased by 0.1% in the quarter to 3.4% and 3.6% respectively.