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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Unemployment leap worse than feared in the UK

The number of people out of work soared by almost a quarter of a million in the first three months of this year, figures show. Skip related content

The rise of 244,000 is the biggest quarterly increase in the jobless total since 1981 and was larger than many analysts had predicted.

It takes the number of people in the UK now looking for work to just over 2.2 million, the worst figure since 1996.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May accused Labour of "sleepwalking through this unemployment crisis."

She went on: "Behind these grim statistics, people's lives have been shattered. We still have a Government that is devoid of ideas and devoid of any real vision to help people out of this grave situation."

But employment minister Tony McNulty insisted Labour had already acted to try to boost job prospects in the UK.

"We understand that people are finding times tough, but we will not give up on them," he said.

"That's why in last month's Budget we set aside a further £3.1 billion to invest in people's futures and create more opportunities to help them get back to work."

The eagerly-awaited data was due to be published on Wednesday but that was brought forward after the Office for National Statistics admitted some of the information had accidentally been released early.

An inquiry launched to establish what went wrong is due to report back to the UK Statistics Authority "very shortly".

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber spoke of his disappointment at "another set of dreadful figures".

He said: "Some people in the City are already talking of a recovery. But the only recovery in the real world will be when unemployment starts to fall.

"Unemployment is still the country's number one emergency and the Government must use all possible means to address it.

Extracted from BBC
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