Britain's jobless leaps to two-year high

14th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's jobless has risen by the fastest pace in nearly two years on rocketing youth unemployment and a record jobs cull in the public sector, official data showed on Wednesday.

The number of people unemployed in Britain jumped to 2.51 million in the three months to the end of July following a net jobless gain of 80,000 -- the biggest quarterly rise since August 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The unemployment rate was steady at 7.9 percent, it added in a statement.

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative-led coalition government is dramatically reducing spending across the public sector to slash Britain's deficit, voiced his disappointment at the jobs data but defended the cuts.

"These unemployment figures are disappointing figures, I don't want to hide from that," Cameron told parliament.

"Every lost job is a tragedy for that family and I want to do everything that I can, and this government will do everything it can, to help those people back into work."

Defending the austerity drive, he added: "It is right that we get on top of our debts and our deficits. Today of all days shows the danger of getting into a position other European countries are in, where their whole credibility is being questioned."

Cameron spoke as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou were to discuss the Greece debt crisis at a teleconference scheduled for 1600 GMT on Wednesday.

In Britain, the ONS added that the number of people employed in the public sector fell by a record 111,000 between March and June to 6.04 million.

Youth unemployment, or the number of 16 to 24 year-olds without a job, climbed by 78,000 to stand at 972,000 in the three months to July.

"The number of people employed in the public sector fell by a staggering 111,000 between March and June, suggesting that job shedding in the public sector is occurring at a much more rapid rate than anticipated," said Scott Corfe, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

"The fact that private sector job creation was just 41,000 over this time period confirms CEBR's long-held view that the private sector labour market would be unable to offset public sector job losses in the short-term.

"We expect the unemployment rate to creep above 8.0 percent over the coming months," Corfe added.

© 2011 AFP

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