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Crisis pushes jobless total to new peak

THE percentage of UK adults who are unemployed has climbed to its highest level since 1996, reaching 7.9 per cent as the economic crisis continues to wreak havoc in the job market.<br /><br />The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless total rose by 210,000 in the three months to the end of July, to reach 2.47m, the highest total figure since 1995.<br /><br />The number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 24,400 from July to hit 1.61m in August, the highest since May 1997.<br /><br />Howard Archer, economist at Global Insight, said unemployment was likely to rise even further, due to uncertainty over the pace of economic recovery.<br /><br />&ldquo;We believe that three million unemployed is still very much on the cards in 2010 or early 2011,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The scale of unemployment among young people between 16 and 24 was particularly high, up to 947,000 from 928,000, or 19.7 per cent, the highest since records began.<br /><br />Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said: &ldquo;Despite talks of economic recovery the relentless rise in unemployment shows that the human impact of the recession is continuing to take its toll.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;We need a radical overhaul of our back to work programmes, not only to help the victims of Gordon Brown&rsquo;s recession, but also to help the millions left behind by Labour for the last twelve years,&rdquo; she added.<br /><br />But Tony Woodley, the general secretary of the UK&rsquo;s largest union Unite, said: &ldquo;Labour's actions contrast starkly with the do-nothing Tories who would have led Britain into a depression.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;If the Tories got their way we could have seen scenes reminiscent of the thirties with queues of people lined up outside soup kitchen