UK Unemployment Increases to 16-Year High

U.K. unemployment climbed to 8 percent in the first quarter, underlining the fragility of the recovery as Conservative David Cameron begins his premiership., Bloomberg 5/12/2010 10:10:36 AM

Unemployment measured by International Labour Organization methods rose 53,000 to 2.51 million, the Office for National Statistics said. The number of people claiming jobless benefits fell 27,100 in April to 1.52 million. The ILO jobless rate rose to 8 percent from 7.8 percent.

The figures come a day after Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg agreed to form Britain’s first coalition government since World War II after inconclusive May 6 elections. Newly appointed finance minister George Osborne said today the jobless increase confirmed the difficult situation” facing the U.K. and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King warned that European deficits had increased risks to the recovery.

Today’s data suggest that while Britain emerged from its worst recession on record at the end of last year, companies are reluctant to increase hiring.

Employment in the first quarter fell 76,000 to 28.8 million. The employment rate of 72 percent is the lowest since 1996. The number of people classed as inactive rose 88,000 to 8.17 million, the highest since records began in 1971, and vacancies fell.

In March, the number of jobless claims fell by 32,700 instead of the 32,900 drop originally reported. In April, the claimant count rate dropped to 4.7 percent, the lowest since May 2009, from 4.8 percent.

Weekly pay including bonuses climbed 4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the most since June 2008. Regular pay rose 1.9 percent and bonus pay soared 14.1 percent.

UK Unemployment Increases to 16-Year High