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Nick Clegg has defended the Government's employment record and insisted that figures released today do contain good news.
Standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions today, the Deputy Prime Minister said that long-term unemployment "came down and the number of new jobs created in the private sector outstripped the number lost in the public sector."
Mr Clegg also accused the previous Labour government of "creating the most unholy mess in 2008 which we're now having to clear up".
The Office for National Statistics announced this morning that unemployment was 2.67m in November 2011 - January 2012, up 28,000 on the previous three months.
The unemployment rate is now 8.4% of the economically active population, which is a rise of 0.1% to the highest rate since 1995. The youth unemployment rate rose by 0.4% to 22.5%, and there are now 2.66m economically inactive 16 to 24 year olds.
But there was some good news for the Government, with private sector employment rising by 45,000 to 23.17m.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling described the news as "a little sign of encouragement."
"I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘green shoots’ because these figures can fluctuate from month to month and quarter to quarter," he said.
"We want to see a sustained improvement before I can start talking about something as a genuine positive step in the right direction."
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