Unemployment reached an 11-year high yesterday when another huge increase in the numbers looking for work edged the total closer to the two million mark.
Official figures for the three months to September showed that 1.82 million people were out of work, an increase of 140,000 from the previous quarter.
It was the highest figure since the end of 1997 and confirmed the fears of unions and analysts that the politically-sensitive two million mark would soon be breached.
The number of people claiming jobseekers allowance rose by 36,500 last month to 980,900, the highest figure since the spring of 2001 and the worst monthly increase since 1992.
The so-called claimant count has now increased for nine months in a row and is 154,800 higher than a year ago.
Employment levels fall
The number of people in work fell by 99,000 to 29.4 million and vacancies were down by 40,000 to 589,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Yesterday’s grim figures do not take into account recent job loss announcements, including news of more than 5,000 cuts yesterday by firms including Virgin Media, Yell, Taylor Wimpey and GlaxKline.
The unemployment rate is now 5.8%, the highest since early 2000, while the number of people looking for work has jumped by 182,000 over the past year.
The number of unemployed men was 1.07 million, up 85,000 over the latest quarter, while 55,000 more women joined the ranks of the unemployed, up to 750,000.
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