UK unemployment hits new highs

The number of unemployed people in the UK rose by 27,000 to 2.53 million in the three months to the end of January 2011, the highest since 1994.

The unemployment rate in the period was 8 per cent, up 0.1 per cent on the quarter.

Among those aged 16 to 24, unemployment increased to 20.6 per cent, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. There are now 974,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds in the UK, up by 30,000 on the previous quarter.

Between January and February this year, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 10,200 to 1.45 million. While the number of male claimants has fallen for the thirteenth consecutive month, female claimants have been on the rise for the last eight months.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, warns, ‘With the government’s austerity plan likely to result in further cuts in public sector jobs, we reiterate our forecast that total unemployment is likely to increase to 2.65 million over the next 12 to 15 months before it starts declining.’

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