UNEMPLOYMENT continued to rise in the city last month as the national jobless total hit a 17-year high.
There were 9,041 people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance in the district in February - up by 240 since the previous month.
The number of unemployed 18-24-year-olds was up by 180 since January, sparking fears of a “lost generation” of young people who are bearing the brunt of government spending cuts.
The district’s overall unemployment figure has risen by more than 1,000 since November.
Nationally, unemployment hit 2.53 million as 27,000 people were added to the jobless list in the three months to January, latest figures show.
Ed Balls, the Morley and Outwood MP and shadow chancellor, said: “These are the worst figures for 17 years, and we are seeing youth unemployment rising, which is a real worry.”
Government spending cuts are expected to lead to hundreds of jobs losses in the district this year after the Future Jobs Fund, a scheme to subsidise employment for young adults, was scrapped.
The coalition government hopes private sector growth will boost jobs and halt the rise in unemployment.
But Mr Balls claimed public spending cuts to reduce Britain’s fiscal deficit were being made too quickly and were stalling growth.
He called for action to create jobs in the district ahead of chancellor George Osborne’s budget next Wednesday.
Mr Balls said: “The worst figures for youth unemployment in Wakefield in the last 30 years were in June 1985, when there were 3,500 young people out of work.
“We are not there yet, but I think that left a real scar and we can’t allow a whole generation to go back there again.”
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “There’s been a welcome drop in the number of people on benefits, and the increase in full-time private sector jobs is a step in the right direction.
“But the rise in overall unemployment is a real concern and underlines the need to press ahead with policies which will further stimulate growth in the private sector.
“For those on benefits that are now looking to make the transition into the workplace our new Work Programme will provide tailored support to get them into jobs.”