Unemployment reaches 1.61 million

UNEMPLOYMENT has increased and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has risen at the highest rate for two years, new figures showed today.

UNEMPLOYMENT has increased and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has risen at the highest rate for two years, new figures showed today.

The so-called claimant count went up by 7,200 in March to 806,300, the third consecutive monthly rise and the biggest monthly increase since April 2006.

The last time the count rose for three months in a row was two years ago, said the Office for National Statistics.

The total number of unemployed, including people not eligible for benefit, increased by 14,000 in the three months to March to 1.61 million, the highest since the end of 2007.

In the East unemployment rose by 3,000 (4.5pc) to 133,000.