More than 110,000 public sector workers have lost their jobs in the second quarter, with job cuts in the sector already five times greater than expected for the year.
Economists described the figure as “staggering” in light of a prediction by the Government’s economic forecaster in March that only 20,000 public sector jobs would go this year.
It is the biggest quarterly fall in public sector employment since records began in 1999, the Office for National Statistics said.
Further figures yesterday showed that the total number of jobless rose by 80,000 between April and June, with private sector firms creating 41,000. It brings the total unemployed number to 2.51 million, or 7.9 per cent of the workforce.
The figures are a blow to George Osborne’s strategy to offset public sector job losses by encouraging firms in the private sector to take on workers.
Almost 250,000 public sector jobs have been cut in the past year, with the number of public workers employed falling to 20.7 per cent, the lowest level since September 2008.
Scott Corfe, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said the figures supported the view that private sector firms would fail to absorb the public sector slack.
“The number of people employed in the public sector fell by a staggering 111,000 between March and June, suggesting that job shedding in the public sector is occurring at a much more rapid rate than anticipated,” he said.
“The fact that private sector job creation was just 41,000 over this time period confirms our long-held view that the private sector labour market would be unable to offset public sector job losses in the short-term.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that 20,000 public sector jobs would be cut before the end of the financial year.
- 57,000 jobs were cut in local government over the second quarter
- 47,000 in central government.
- The number of civil servants was cut by 24,000 to 489,000, a fall of almost 5 per cent.
- The National Health Service lost 26,000 jobs, while 16,000 went in schools and universities.
The figures also showed that unemployment among 16 to 24 year-olds increased by 78,000 to 973,000 between April and July.
The number of people forced to work part-time because they could not find a full-time job also rose by 70,000 to reach 1.28 million, the highest figure on record.
The CBI described the rise in unemployment as “troubling”, especially in youth unemployment. Neil Carberry, the lobby group’s director for employment policy, said: “Businesses are eager to play their part through apprenticeships, training and work placements, but now the Government must do all it can to create the right conditions for the private sector to create much-needed jobs.”
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday promised to push infrastructure projects into action to stimulate the employment market.
“The country needs jobs, and time is no longer on our side. So Whitehall will put its foot on the accelerator. We will deliver on our commitments,” he said.