Unemployment set to soar as jobs market dries up

Unemployment in the UK has risen again with the number of people in work and the number of vacancies both falling, official statistics have shown.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics found the number of people out of work rose by 81,000 between May and July, to 1.72 million. That took the official unemployment rate up from 5.3% to 5.5%.

The number of people claiming jobseekers allowance also rose, by 32,500 to 904,900 in August. The redundancy level for the three months to July 2008 was 138,000, up 28,000 over the quarter and up 18,000 over the year.

The number of people unemployed for at least a year could rise dramatically by the end of 2009, the TUC has warned.

In an analysis of employment figures since 1997, the union umbrella group found that while employment levels reached a historic high of about 75%, recent figures show a rising trend in the number of long-term unemployed (defined as being out of work for at least 12 months).

The TUC predicts that the total number of people falling into this category could jump from its current level of 400,000 to 700,000 by the end of 2009. Total unemployment would also rise to more than two million by the end of 2009, it warned.

General secretary Brendan Barber said: “The TUC is concerned that unemployment has been sneaking up in the last few months and it’s up to unions, employers and the government to halt and reverse this trend as soon as possible.”

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