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Claimant count falls again but jobless total still rising

THE number of unemployed Britons rose again in the three months to March to a 15-month high of 2.51m, taking the jobless rate to eight per cent, official data showed yesterday.

Even more worryingly, the employment rate fell to a 13-year low of 72 per cent, suggesting that the rise in unemployment has been limited by people withdrawing, at least temporarily, from the labour market.

However, the claimant count fell again in April so that 1.52m people are claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance. This took the claimant count rate back to 4.7 per cent.

IHS Global Insight’s Howard Archer said: “This resilience of the labour market reflects both employers and employees being flexible in trying to prevent permanent job losses, including the use of such measures as wage freezes or pay cuts, working part time, extended unpaid leave and career breaks.”

Total earnings growth surged to four per cent in the three months to March, which was caused by higher than expected bonuses this year. This rate is likely to remain elevated in April and then start to fall back, said Societe Generale’s economist Brian Hilliard.