Unemployment soars as recession bites

The number of unemployed people rocketed in the third quarter of 2008, pushing the total figure closer towards two million jobless by Christmas, new figures have revealed.

The number of people out of work rose sharply to 1.82 million between June and September 2008, up 140,000 from the three months to June 2008 – accounting for more than three-quarters of the year-on-year increase of 182,000 – according to the Labour Market Statistics report from the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate, at 5.8%, is now at its highest in a decade.

Last month the unemployment figures rose to their highest in 17 years, causing employer groups to predict that two million people would be out of work by Christmas.

The CBI’s deputy director-general, John Cridland, said that job losses were an inevitable consequence of the economic downturn.

“It is clear that the human cost of this downturn will unfortunately be higher than initially expected, with unemployment continuing to rise through the coming months,” he said.

Today’s statistics also showed that over the past quarter, the number of people in employment has fallen by 99,000 over, with the working age employment rate falling 0.4% to 74.4%. However, 29.4 million people are in work, according to the latest figures, a rise of 134,000 compared with a year ago.

The monthly claimant count was 980,900, up 36,500, and the number of vacancies was 589,000, down 40,000 on the previous quarter.

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