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UK unemployment set to reach 2m

Government figures released today show that the number of unemployed people, the unemployment rate and the claimant count have all increased. The number of inactive people of working age and the inactivity rate have fallen. The number of vacancies have fallen. Growth in average earnings, both including and excluding bonuses, is unchanged.

The employment rate for people of working age was 74.1 per cent for the three months to December 2008, down 0.3 from the previous quarter and down 0.7 over the year. The number of people in employment for the three months to December 2008 was 29.36 million, down 45,000 over the quarter and down 37,000 over the year. While there has been a fall over the quarter of 78,000 people in full-time employment, the number of people in part-time employment has increased by 33,000.

The unemployment rate was 6.3 per cent for the three months to December 2008, up 0.4 over the previous quarter and up 1.1 over the year. The last time the rate was higher was in the three months to March 1998 (when it was 6.4 per cent). The number of unemployed people increased by 146,000 over the quarter and by 369,000 over the year, to reach 1.97 million (the highest figure since the three months to August 1997).

The claimant count was 1.23 million in January 2009, the highest figure since July 1999. It is up 73,800 over the previous month and up 438,100 over the year.

The redundancies level for the three months to December 2008 was 259,000, up 104,000 over the quarter and up 148,000 over the year. This is the highest figure since comparable records began in 1995.

The inactivity rate for people of working age was 20.8 per cent for the three months to December 2008, down 0.1 over the previous quarter and down 0.2 over the year. The number of economically inactive people of working age fell by 29,000 over the quarter and by 48,000 over the year to reach 7.86 million.

The annual rate of growth in average earnings excluding bonuses was 3.6 per cent in the three months to December 2008, unchanged from the three months to November. Including bonuses, it was 3.2 per cent, unchanged from the three months to November.

There were 504,000 job vacancies in the three months to January 2009, down 76,000 over the previous quarter and down 179,000 over the year. This is the lowest figure since comparable records began in 2001.

Paymex spokesman Nick Pearson commented ?Unemployment is one of the biggest triggers for people to get into debt problems. People facing redundancy should seek advice about their financial position as soon as possible.?

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