British unemployment sees sharpest decline since 2000

15th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's jobless total fell by the biggest amount in more than ten years in the three months to April, official data showed on Wednesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement that the number of unemployed in Britain fell by 88,000 to 2.43 million people. That was the largest decline since the three months to August 2000.

However the unemployment rate held steady at 7.7 percent in the three months to the end of April, compared with the previous three months, in line with market expectations.

However, the ONS added that the number of people claiming benefits rose by 19,600 between April and May to 1.49 million -- which was the biggest increase since July 2009.

Expectations had been for an increase of just 5,000 in the claimant count, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

"The labour market is currently showing resilience in the face of a struggling economy, but the key question is can it last?" said economist Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight.

"We have serious doubts about this and suspect that unemployment will head up in the second half of the year as public sector jobs are increasingly pared and private sector companies become more cautious in the face of persistently sluggish growth."

© 2011 AFP

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