UK unemployment 'rises for first time'
Unemployment in the UK has risen for the first time since last year, according to a new report.
The figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between December 2015 and February this year, unemployment jumped up by 21,000. That brings the overall jobless figure for the UK to 1.7 million.
ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: "It's too soon to be certain but, with unemployment up for the first time since mid-2015, and employment seeing its slowest rise since that period, it's possible that recent improvements in the labour market may be easing off."
In contrast, employment figures were shown to be on the rise, with a total of 31.41 million in work across the UK, a rise of 20,000 over the same period. This would put the employment rate at 74.1%, the joint highest since records began in 1971.
79.2% of men and 69.1% of women aged from 16 to 64 were in work, a rise for both on last year's figures.
Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crab has said the rise in unemployment is a result of the imminent EU referendum affecting the UK job market.
He told the BBC that the "question mark hanging over Britain’s relationship with the European single market is having a real-terms impact on the British economy and impacting on sterling exchange rates, impacting on investment decisions".