Unemployment reaches 16-year high

The UK's unemployment figures have hit a 16-year high today after another rise in people without jobs

Unemployment in Britain has reached its worst level since 1995, with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rising by 6,900 in January to 1.6million.

Women claiming the allowance increased by 1,500 last month to 531,700 – the highest figures since the summer of 1995 – as Britain continues to struggle with the economic downturn.

A record number of people are now being forced to work part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs, which has increased the levels of employment to 29 million.

Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, says: ‘With more people in the labour market, we know that competition for those jobs is tough and we will continue to make it our priority to find people work.’

Around 164,000 workerswere made redundant or took voluntary redundancy in the final quarter of last year, but the number of job vacancies has increased by 11,000 in recent months, suggesting the labour market is stabilising.

‘Britons are facing their worst employment prospects since the recession began,’ says John Salt, of recruitment firm totaljobs.com.

‘All the more apparent is the widening gap between North and South, with depressed high streets and businesses across the North West and North East struggling to cope with the lack of demand.’

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