British jobless strikes highest level for 17 years

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The number of unemployed in Britain reached a 17-year high of 2.53 million in the three months to January, official data showed Wednesday.

"The total number of unemployed people increased by 27,000 over the quarter to reach 2.53 million, the highest figure since 1994," the Office for National Statistics said. That lifted the unemployment rate to 8.0 percent.

The ONS said the number of unemployed aged 16-24 jumped 30,000 in the three months to January to 974,000, which was the worst figure since records began in 1992.

The claimant count of people registered for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly by 10,200 in January to 1.45 million, according to the ONS.

That was the biggest drop since June 2010 and took the total number to the lowest level since February 2009.

Market expectations had been for an increase of 1,500 in the claimant count, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

© 2011 AFP

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