Unemployment up 7.3 per cent in the North West

12:28pm Wednesday 18th March 2009

UNEMPLOYMENT in the North West rose by 7.3 per cent in the past three months, official figures have revealed.

The jobless total in the region hit 281,000 last month, according to Government figures, up from 262,000 during the previous quarter.

The region’s unemployment rate now stands at 7.7 per cent.

Across the UK, unemployment surged past two million for the first time in 12 years, while the number of people nationwide signing on for benefit soared by a record 138,000 last month.

The total number of people out of work in the UK, including those not eligible for benefit, jumped by 165,000 in the quarter to January to 2.03 million, the worst figure since Labour came to power in the summer of 1997.

The quarterly rise was the highest since 1991, and the total has now increased by 421,000 over the past year, said the Office for National Statistics.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This is another milestone in the return of mass unemployment to the UK, and it will get worse before it gets better as unemployment always persists even after a recovery starts.”

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: “As well as the misery for the two million on the dole, add the fear of millions of others who know that they too are at risk of redundancy. We do not know who the next million to lose their job will be.”

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The outlook for unemployment is worsening and there is an urgent need for action. At this rate, unemployment looks set to reach 3.2 million in 2010.

”Even with some staff accepting pay freezes and working fewer hours, it is clear that employers are facing significant financial pressures.”

The data also showed a 48,000 fall in the number of people in full-time employment in the latest quarter, to 21.8 million, and a 50,000 increase in part-time workers, to 7.55 million.

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