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Long-term unemployment on the rise
Almost a million people will have been out of work for more than a year by the end of 2012, according to new research.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank said another 107,000 people will join the ranks of the long-term unemployed in the coming months, taking the total to its highest level since 1995.
The report, published ahead of new unemployment figures, said long-term unemployment was the "hidden crisis" facing the UK economy.
The new figures follow a spate of job loss announcements affecting almost 800 posts.
Tony Dolphin, the IPPR's chief economist, said: "Long-term unemployment is the hidden crisis of the slowest ever economic recovery in the UK. While the youth contract is designed to help young people out of work for more than a year, the Work Programme has only been able to secure employment for about a third of jobseekers on the programme.
"On current progress, just two-thirds of people out of work for a year will not get work in the following two years. Government policy is not keeping pace with joblessness.
"Unemployment is not going to fall until the middle of 2013 and the number of people out of work for more than a year is going to grow to almost a million the end of this year. The longer someone is unemployed, the less likely they are to ever return to work.
"The Government should guarantee everyone who has been unemployed for more than a year a job at the minimum wage in local government or the voluntary sector. But with that right should come the responsibility to take that job or risk losing their benefits."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We know times are tough, but there are jobs out there and Jobcentre Plus is taking on 10,000 vacancies every working day.
"We still face a long road before we overcome the economic challenges ahead. The Work Programme plays a vital role in helping people get the right support and training so they can take up those available opportunities, and through the Youth Contract we are spending £1 billion to create opportunities for nearly half a million young people over the next three years."