Julian Harris
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EMPLOYMENT rose again in May, official figures revealed yesterday, yet there were worrying signs for chancellor George Osborne that the labour market recovery could be facing a slowdown.

While employment rose by 50,000 in the three months to May, this was significantly lower than the 88,000 added in the three months to April, while claims for unemployment benefit jumped at their fastest rate for two years.

Unemployment measured 7.7 per cent, down 26,000 to 2.45m in the three months to May.

“Yet unemployment on the ILO measure rose by 22,000 in the latest month covered,” commented Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

And an extra 24,500 people signed on in June, pushing the dole queue total to 1.52m.

Nearly half a million women (493,900) are now claiming jobseekers’ allowance – the highest for 15 years -- as cuts in government sector jobs disproportionately hit female-dominated roles.

A further 24,000 government sector jobs were shed between December and March, figures showed, a fall of 0.4 per cent. During the same period the private sector created 104,000 new jobs.

There was a decline in unemployment for young people; excluding students, there were 644,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds in the three months to May, down 18,000 on the previous three months.

Total pay for all employees, including bonuses, was up 2.3 per cent compared to the same time in 2010.