LONDON, NOV 16 - Unemployment in Britain rose to the highest rate in 15 years and the number of young people without a job soared to a record high, official data showed on Wednesday.

ANALYSTS' COMMENTS:

CHRIS GRAYLING, EMPLOYMENT MINISTER

These figures are bad news. They are I'm afraid the consequence of what we're seeing in the euro zone.

If you go back four months, unemployment was falling, youth unemployment was lower than 900,000. We've seen a big slowdown in the economy I think as a result of the crisis elsewhere.

The message we're getting from business ... is that businesses have now moved into very cautious mode. They've not yet seen a significant impact on their own performance but what they're doing now is holding on -- they're not recruiting, they're taking a cautious approach because of their concerns about what we're seeing in the euro zone.

We have to do three things: we must not divert from the reduction of the deficit ... we have to do everything we can to support and encourage growth here -- and that will be a big focus of the Autumn Statement in two weeks time -- and then through schemes like our work programme, our work experience scheme which is getting a significant number of young people off benefits and into work, we've got to deliver the best possible support to the unemployed.

GEORGE BUCKLEY, DEUTSCHE BANK

I think the focus is going to be on ILO with the figure of 8.3 percent, the highest in 15 years. The other worrying figure is that wages haven't really grown. When you have bad wage growth and rising unemployment, it doesn't bode well for consumption.

PAUL KENNY, GMB UNION GENERAL SECRETARY

The millions of workers without jobs face a miserable Christmas and a bleak New Year. For all the economic problems in other parts of Europe, the number of young people out of work is far higher in the UK than in other parts of Europe and is three times higher than in Germany.

Instead of attacking pensions and employment rights and making it easier to sack people the government should be pursuing policies to create jobs which is something it is failing miserably to do. Where are all the jobs that were promised to make up from the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the public sector?

PHILIP SHAW, INVESTEC

The big picture is unemployment is rising and the number of jobs is falling while rates of pay growth is easing back as well.

In truth though, the figures could have been worse and are slightly better than expected; until the UK economy regains some traction it's likely that unemployment will continue to rise.

ALAN CLARKE, SCOTIA CAPITAL

It's more of the same going forward. There will be more of the same because the economy is not growing fast enough to push unemployment down. It's ground hog day once a month for the next 12 months at least.

ROSS WALKER, RBS:

I think the story is the fall in the ILO employment measure, and you can also see that reflected in the sharp drop, drop of almost 200,000 workers since the start of 2009. We expected a fall in employment but this is a sharper surge than we thought. Our expectation is that it is going to grind higher to reach nine percent in autumn next year. What you are seeing in the claimant count is some of the distortions washing out, I wouldn't read too much into that.

BRIAN HILLIARD, SOCIETE GENERALE:

It's very welcome to see a much smaller increase in the claimant count than we were expecting and it's rather surprising. The ILO rate has moved higher than expected and I think that tells a truer story of what the picture is going to be. The earnings numbers are exceedingly modest, that confirms the BoE conviction that there has been no feed-through from higher inflation and that trend is likely to continue.