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Verity Gough

Sift Media

Deputy Editor

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Unemployment figures hit a 12-year high

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UK unemployment has hit the highest level since 1997, with the numbers of jobless having risen to 2.261 million in the three months to April, the Office for National Statistics has said.

The official figures published today show that the UK employment rate has fallen to 73.3 percent, down 0.8 from the previous quarter and down 1.5 over the year while the UK unemployment rate increased to 7.2 per cent from the previous quarter, up 0.7 over the previous quarter and up 1.9 over the year.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) described the figures as "grim but not unexpected", yet added that figures for the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance were surprisingly low, however, this should not be taken as an indication that the job market would be recovering any time soon.

“Anyone looking for green shoots of recovery in today’s jobs figures will have little to grasp at. The recorded quarterly fall in employment and rise in unemployment still ranks amongst the worst seen in the post-war era. Vacancies are drying up at a rapid rate and redundancies go on rising. The grim news thus continues, though this is not unexpected given the dire state of the economy at the turn of the year,” he said.

In addition, online recruitment specialist, Monster.co.uk, noted that its own employment index fell by three points or two percent in May, following a slight uptick in online hiring in April. Yet, despite the fall, the past months’ relatively flat Index readings suggest that online recruitment activity has stabilised in the UK after a sharp contraction in 2008 while the year-on-year rate of decline of 72 points has remained largely unchanged over the past three months.

"Most indicators suggest that the UK economy remains stuck in a deep recession. However, a recent pick-up in demand for production workers suggests that jobs prospects in the battered manufacturing sector may be improving somewhat,” said Hugo Sellert, head of economic research, at Monster Worldwide.

Analysts have welcomed the data, but said it was too early to hail it as a turning point in the recession.

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Verity Gough

Deputy Editor

Read more from Verity Gough
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