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Benefit claimant count hits 15-year high as jobless count surges

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The number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 15,500 in June, the fastest rise in over 15 years.

According to official figures from the Office of National Statistics the claimant count was 840,000 in June 2008 whilst the unemployment rate reached 5.2% over the quarter.

Despite a swell in numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have said that the figures show that overall the UK jobs market is in good health. There has been another rise in the number of people in employment standing at 29.59 million as of May 2008. This is the highest figure since comparable records began in 1971 and is up 61,000 over the quarter and up 413,000 over the year.

Unsurprisingly, the number of job vacancies has dropped by around 5% in the previous quarter, falling by 32,200 in the three months to June as the economic downturn takes its toll on hiring.

Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the CIPD said, “Yet again, the jobs figures continue to defy the woes experienced by the rest of the economy, which will provide some comfort to the Government and reassure the Bank of England that pay rises still pose little threat to inflation. While there has been an increase in the claimant count, the numbers classified as economically inactive have risen less fast, and the number in employment has continued to rise.”

Sounding a note of caution, Davies said that the figures masked the swathe of redundancies that have recently been announced.

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Annie Hayes

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