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Friday, September 16, 2011

UK Unemployment rises above 2.5m milestone

Public sector job cuts imposed as part of the government's austerity drive have sent unemployment back through the 2.5m barrier, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

The Office for National Statistics said the number of people out of work rose by 80,000 in the three months to July, reaching 2.51m, mainly due to a sharp rise in youth unemployment.

Despite ministerial hopes that the private sector will be able to compensate for the squeeze on the public sector, the ONS said the May to July period had seen the sharpest rise in unemployment in two years.

The unemployment rate using the internationally agreed yardstick for calculating joblessness rose to 7.9% for May to July, from 7.7% in February to April.

Officials said that employment in the public sector had fallen by 111,000 in the second quarter of 2011, the biggest drop since recent records began in 1999.

The government's alternative measure for unemployment – the claimant count – indicated that an additional 20,300 people were out of work and claiming benefits in August, a smaller increase than the City had feared following an increase of more than 30,000 in July. The claimant count total now stands at 1,580,900. more