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UK unemployment rate up to 8 pct

Britain's unemployment rate has risen to 8 per cent as the number of people out of work reached a 17-year high of more than 2.5 million, an official report said Wednesday.

world Updated: Mar 21, 2011 13:48 IST

Britain's unemployment rate has risen to 8 per cent as the number of people out of work reached a 17-year high of more than 2.5 million, an official report said Wednesday.

Gains in the number of people working in the private sector were not enough to offset growth in the labor pool and public sector job cuts, causing the increase in the unemployment rate, the Office for National Statistics said.

The rate for the November-January period rose from the 7.9 per cent rate reported last month for the October-December period.

Simon Hayes, analyst at Barclays Capital, forecast "a small but steady rise in the unemployment rate during the rest of the year."

The total number of people working rose by 32,000, more than the 27,000 increase in the number of unemployed, but not enough to keep pace with a labor force which grew by 93,000.

"Not enough jobs are being created to match the expanding work force and the public sector cull has barely started," said Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics.

"There is little evidence here that the labor market will either support a strong recovery in activity in the economy or fuel price pressures," he added.

The unemployment rate for people aged 18 to 24 reached a record high of 18.3 per cent.

The agency noted that the number of people aged 65 who are working rose by 56,000 in the three months to 900,000, the highest figure since the current data series began in 1992.

"The small increase in employment did not improve the unemployment picture because most of the increase reflected more people working past the state pension age," said Nigel Meager, director of the Institute for Employment Studies.
Household finances were further hurt by weak increases in wages. Total pay was up 2.3 percent on the year, well below the current inflation rate of 4 percent.