UK unemployment reaches 2.2m

| May 12, 2009 | 0 Comments

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of people out of work in the UK has reached 2.2 million.

This takes the unemployment rate up to 7.1% from 6.7% - the highest rate since 1991.

In the meantime, unemployment benefit claimants in April climbed by a further 57,000 to just over 1.5 million.

According to TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, the figures are worse than anticipated with unemployment expected to exceed the 2.5 million mark by summer.

However, the increase of 57,000 in the number of people out of work last month compares with a rise of 74,000 in April, and a huge rise of 137,000 in March and, therefore, suggests that the scale of job losses may be easing.

However, today‘s unemployment figures are almost certain to dash hopes of a recovery in the UK.

Earlier today, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said the worst of the recession may be over for Britain.

The influential think tank said while output is still shrinking, there have been some green shoots of recovery with the possibility of the recession being over by August.

Today the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that its members believe house price falls will stabilise in coming months.

Rics added enquiries by new buyers have increased for the sixth consecutive month.

Also today, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced that the British High Street saw a flurry of shoppers in April, as a result of the good weather.

The BRC said like-for-like sales, which excludes sales from new shops, rose by 4.6% in April, compared with the same month last year.

Returning to today’s unemployment figures, the figures were scheduled to be released tomorrow at 0930 BST, but were “accidentally” released today at 1400 - the ONS has launched an investigation into why the figures were released a day early.

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