According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), unemployment levels since the beginning of the recession in 2008 have risen more sharply for certain socio-economic groups than for others. New figures suggest that efforts to increase inclusion in the workplace of lower-skilled workers may be needed to counter the effects of the recession.

By analysing Job Seekers’ Allownace claims, the ONS revealed that the largest increase in claimant proportion was in the low skill category, where it increased by 5.3 percentage points, from 7.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2008 to 13.2 per cent in 2010.

“In general, the lower the skill level is required for the usual occupation, the higher the claimant proportion,” said the ONS.

“For people whose usual occupation require low skill, the claimant proportion increased and then fell in the three-year period before the recession, and rose sharply during the recession.”

Meanwhile, the recession also appears to have worsened the UK’s regional divides, with areas in the south generally fairing better than those in the north.

The West Midlands has suffered the biggest rise in the unemployment rate at 6.1 percentage points, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber at 5.3.

The smallest increases were in the South East, at 2.7 percentage points, the Eas (3.0) and London (3.2).

Gender was another factor in the the likelihood of a worker being made unemployed in the aftermath of the recession.

While men were hit slightly harder by the recession, the unemployment rate among women is taking longer to fall.

Female unemployment peaked at 7.2 per cent between August and October last year and now stands at 7.0 per cent.

In contrast, the number of men who are unemployed has fallen by 0.8 per cent, having peaked at 9.1 per cent between January and March 2010.