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Unemployment rises as pay growth slows to its lowest rate since records began

The number of unemployed people in the UK has risen to 2.52 million, Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal.

The figures show unemployment grew by 15,000 in the three months to the end of March, compared with the previous three months. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.8%.

The figures also revealed that total pay rose by 0.4% between January and March 2013 compared with the same period in 2012. However, the growth rate has not been lower since March to May 2009. Regular pay rose by 0.8% over the same period, the lowest growth rate since comparable records began in 2001.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation's (REC) head of policy, Kate Shoesmith, remained optimistic despite today's figures. She said: "Recruiters are telling us they are seeing employer confidence returning, illustrated for instance by the hiring process starting to speed up and decisions about taking people on being made more quickly.

"We remain optimistic there will be growth in the jobs market in 2013."

The figures show the number of unemployed 16-to 24-year-olds fell by 17,000 to 958,000 while those of working age classed as economically inactive, including students, people on long-term sick leave and people who have given up looking for work, rose by 47,000 to nine million.

Despite today's increase in unemployment, the total is 92,000 lower than a year ago.

Shoesmith added: "The emerging challenge that we have is that those people who are out of work, especially the long-term unemployed, don't have the skills and experience necessary to take advantage of the jobs that are available."