Britain's labour market continues to struggle with continually rising unemployment despite more people being in work, the latest update from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
Today's ONS figures for June show that the employment rate for people of working age has remained static for the last three months but fell 0.2 per cent year-on-year.
In total 28.9 million were employed, up 59,000 over the quarter. Despite this, the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 per cent, up 0.7 per cent in the last 12 months.
"The latest jobs figures are a mixed bag of good and bad news," commented Dr John Philpott, chief economist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
"There was a sharp drop in self-employment in the latest quarter, possibly linked to the availability of fewer contract opportunities in the public sector, which is now experiencing a marked slowdown in employment growth as well as pay growth.
"None of this indicates that the labour market is in particularly poor shape. But with the market clearly off the boil at present there is nothing in these figures that strengthens the case for an early rise in interest rates."
Howard Archer of research firm Global Insight agreed with Dr Philpott's analysis of today's figures, which he described as "far from alarming", before saying they were "unlikely to push the MPC towards an imminent hiking of interest rates".
But shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond, condemning the figures as "disappointing", suggested that the government was responsible for the downtrend in employment prospects.
"The government is continuing to ignore the fundamental drivers of prosperity in our economy and as a result Britain is not creating jobs fast enough to cope with the pace of population growth," Mr Hammond said.
"Labour's complacency is putting Britain's economic future at risk Business investment has been at a record low, productivity growth has fallen and we have dropped from third to 13th in the global competitiveness league."
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' union, agreed with Mr Hammond that unemployment rates were the responsibility of the government.
"We want to hear more from government ministers about what they will do to stem the flow of manufacturing jobs," he said, before concluding that "these figures show that British workers are in danger of getting the worst of both worlds - US-style lack of rights at work, combined with European unemployment levels".