Data released today shows an increase in redundancies from 18,000 to 23,000 for the three months to December 2010

Data released by the Office for National Statistics today shows there were 23,000 redundancies in the construction sector during the last three months of 2010, an increase from the 18,000 job losses during the third quarter. While this is still negative, it is an improvement on the same period a year earlier, when 34,000 people were made redundant.

The data also shows average earnings in December, the most recent month for which data is available, fell slightly, to £507, down from £516 in November.

Overall, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.9%, while youth unemployment hit a record high. Unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds in the UK rose by 66,000 to 965,000, the highest since comparable records began in 1992. There are currently 2.49m people unemployed across the UK.