Jobless figure rises sharply

UNEMPLOYMENT has soared to almost 2.4 million after a record number of people joined the growing jobless ranks, grim new figures showed today.The figure rose by 281,000 in the three months to May, the biggest quarterly increase on record, taking the total to 2.

UNEMPLOYMENT has soared to almost 2.4 million after a record number of people joined the growing jobless ranks, grim new figures showed today.

The figure rose by 281,000 in the three months to May, the biggest quarterly increase on record, taking the total to 2.38 million, the highest since 1995.

In East Anglia 187,000 people are without work - 6.3 per cent of the workforce.

The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance increased by 23,800 in June to 1.56 million, the worst total since Labour came to power in 1997.

The so-called claimant count has now increased for 16 months in a row and is over 700,000 higher than a year ago.

Youth unemployment has jumped to a 16-year high of 726,000 after a quarterly rise of 95,000, while the number of people out of work for longer than a year rose by 46,000 to 528,000, the highest for 11 years.

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Meanwhile the number of people in work fell by 269,000 in the latest quarter to 29 million after a record fall of 0.9 per cent in the employment rate to 72.9pc.

More than 300,000 people were made redundant in the three months to May, the second highest figure on record, and a rise of 31,000 on the previous quarter.

Other data from the Office for National Statistics showed that vacancies fell to a record low of 429,000 in the three months to June, down by 35,000 from the previous quarter.

Manufacturing jobs continued to fall, down by 201,000 over the past year to a record low of 2.6 million.

Average earnings increased by 2.3pc in the year to May, up by 1.4pc on the previous month.

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those on long term sick leave or who have given up looking for a job, increased by 64,000 in the latest quarter to 7.92 million, 20pc of the workforce.

The number of unemployed men increased by almost 200,000 to 1.46 million, while 84,000 more women were out of work, taking female unemployment to 923,000, today's figure revealed.

Unemployment in the regions between March and May was: (tabulate under region, total unemployed, change on quarter, unemployment rate)