The number of unemployed people in the UK rose by 70,000 between December and February to reach 2.56 million, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal.

This takes the unemployment rate for Q1 2012 to 7.9%, with the number of people in work falling by 2,000 during the quarter – the first time the number has dropped since the autumn. The number of people out of work for more than a year rose by 8,000 to 900,000, although the overall figures conceal differential stories of growth and contraction. The number of people in full-time employment, for example, actually rose by 60,000 to 21.6 million, although the number of part-time jobs fell by 62,000 to just over eight million.

Commenting on the figures, Scotiabank economist Alan Clarke observed: “It’s not a disaster, but a lot of the froth and really good news we had over the last year on jobs is becoming exhausted, which shouldn’t be a surprise when there is not much growth around.”

The REC’s CEO, Kevin Green, said that feedback obtained by his organisation from recruiters all suggests that UK firms plan to hire more people during 2013, however. He continued: “In fact, in some parts of the labour market the looming problem is not a lack of vacancies but a shortage of talent to fill the jobs that the private sector is creating. IT and engineering are the obvious examples, but there are some less well-known ones too, like drivers and chefs.”

The news may not be especially buoyant, but it seems that Umbrella Company Employees with the most sought-after skills are continuing to dodge economic bullets.

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