Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show 210,000 people on unemployment benefits in March had previously held skilled, middle-class jobs – more than 120% higher than the same month last year.
In comparison, the number of less-skilled workers on the dole increased by 75% in the same period as 1.3 million blue-collar workers lost their jobs.
Roles particularly hard hit during the recession include sales managers, lawyers, and positions in advertising, while the number of corporate managers signing on in the year to March rose by 170% – with marketing and construction managers particularly hit.
But HR staff are not highly represented in the rising numbers of the unemployed, as they are kept on to deal with redundancies.
The figures also reveal a rising number of middle-class workers are becoming long-term unemployed – staying on unemployment benefits for more than six months.
The number of corporate managers claiming benefits for six to 12 months has more than doubled in the year to March.
James Derbyshire, an economist at Cambridge Econometrics, told the Financial Times: “A feature of the current recession is that it is affecting white-collar workers at least as much as, and probably slightly more than, less-skilled workers. By comparison, job losses in the previous two recessions were more confined to lower-skilled occupations.”