Jobless figures show sharp increase

The number of people registering for unemployment benefit in the UK has jumped to its highest in almost three years, a report released today showed. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) report revealed that the claimant count rose by 12,600 in March to a total of 937,600. This was almost 3,000 more than the 9,700 average increase per month over the last two quarters. 

The number of unemployed people also increased by 30,000 over the quarter and by 120,000 over the year, to reach 1.56 million. The unemployment rate was 5.1% in February, up 0.1% over the quarter and 0.4% over the year.  

The ONS said that the decline in employment in the manufacturing sector was a contributing factor. 

In the three months up to February there were 3.07 million people working in the manufacturing industry, a drop of 113,000 compared with the same period a year earlier.

This takes manufacturing employment to the lowest since comparable records began in 1978, according to ONS figures. 

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said unemployment levels would remain high for some time. 

“With demand for labour subdued against a background of continued growth in the number of people active in the economy, unemployment is set to remain on an upward path for the time being,” he said. 

“Manufacturing is still shedding jobs at a steady rate and the level of vacancies has fallen in sectors that were until recently the mainstay of employment growth – hospitality and retail, health, education, public administration and construction.” 

The proportion of the working age population in employment, however, remained steady at 74.5%.

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