Unemployment hits 15-year high

City A.M. Reporter
Unemployment in Britain rose to the highest rate in 15 years and the number of young people without a job soared to a record high, official data showed.

The government, under pressure to boost the economy, is constrained by its pledge to erase Britain's huge budget deficit through a tough austerity plan, which includes the loss of an estimated 400,000 public sector jobs.

The Office for National Statistics said the number of people without a job on the wider ILO measure grew by 129,000 in the three months to September to 2.622 million - the highest level since July-September 1994.

The jobless rate rose to 8.3 per cent, compared with forecasts for a reading of 8.2 percent. That was the highest rate since April-June 1996.

The number of young people out of work ticked up to 1.016m, rising above the politically sensitive 1 million mark for the first time since comparable records began in 1992 and taking the unemployment rate among eligible 16- to 24-year-olds to 21.9 percent.

However, the number of people claiming jobless benefit rose by 5,300 last month, far below analysts' forecasts of a rise of 20,000. That was the smallest monthly rise in claimant count since February.

Average weekly earnings growth including bonuses weakened to 2.3 per cent. Analysts had forecast a pick-up of 2.5 percent. Excluding bonuses, pay grew by 1.7 per cent.

Wage growth is still well below inflation, which stood at five per cent in October, adding to pressures on consumers.

Chancellor George Osborne has ruled out major changes to the deficit reduction plan in his autumn statement due on 29 November, when he is likely to announce mainly supply-side measures aimed at improving the country's growth prospects.

The government is banking heavily on the private sector to create new jobs as public spending cuts are kicking in. However, recent surveys have found that job losses in the public sector are likely to continue outpacing hiring by businesses.