British jobless jump by another 49,000

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The number of unemployed people in Britain jumped by 49,000 in the three months to November, official data showed on Wednesday, pushing the jobless total to 2.5 million.

"The number of unemployed people was 2.50 million in the three months to November 2010, up 49,000 from the three months to August 2010 and up 38,000 from a year earlier," the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

In a further blow, the ONS also revealed that there was a record amount of jobless young people.

The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds leapt 32,000 in the three months to November to hit 951,000 -- the highest reading since records began in 1992.

The downbeat data comes one day after news that annual inflation had spiked to an eight-month high of 3.7 percent in December -- sparking fresh speculation that the Bank of England could soon be forced to start hiking interest rates.

On a brighter note, the ONS added on Wednesday that the so-called claimant count of people registered for unemployment benefits fell by 4,100 in December to 1.46 million.

But many economists forecast that unemployment will spike even higher in the coming months as a result of the government's painful cuts in public spending.

"Labour market data may well be mixed in the near term but we expect a modest deteriorating trend to emerge as 2011 progresses," said IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer.

"We suspect that unemployment is headed up in 2011 as a consequence of slower, below-trend growth, rising business caution and public sector jobs being increasingly pared."

The unemployment rate was meanwhile flat at 7.9 percent in the three months to November, compared the three months to October, according to the ONS.

Britain's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is slashing public expenditure and increasing taxation as it seeks to reduce a huge deficit.

© 2011 AFP

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