UK Jobless Total Soars

The number of people out of work in the UK soared by 244,000 to 2.22 million in the first three months of 2009 according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The increase was the largest quarterly rise since 1981.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.8% over the previous quarter to 7.1% and was up by 592,000 (+1.8%) over the past year. The number of unemployment benefit claimants in April rose by 57,100 to 1.51 million – up by 710,700 on the previous year.

The working age employment rate dropped by 0.5% to 73.6% in the 3 months to March – whilst the total number of people aged 16 and over in work fell by 157,000 to 29.2 million – and was down by 295,000 on the previous year.

The number of job vacancies in the first 3 months of the year was down by 51,000 at 455,000, and were 232,000 lower than in the same period of 2008.

The redundancies level was up 27,000 at 286,000 – an increase of 175,000 on the year.

The news regarding older workers was once again mixed. The number of people in work aged 50+ rose by 15,000 in the first 3 months and was up by 51,000 on the previous year, with 47,000 of that increase being amongst those over state pension age. At the same time the number of people aged 50 to state pension age classified as ‘economically inactive’ fell by 31,000 over the quarter and by 51,000 (-2.2%) over the year.

However, the number of people age 50+ registered as unemployed rose by 39,000 (+12.6%) over the past 3 months and 111,000 (+47.7%) over the past year, whilst the number of people in the age group claiming Jobseekers Allowance went up by 9,600 in April to 233,600 – an increase of 111,700 (+120.6%) on the year.

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