The number of people seeking work in the three months through August rose by 88,000, the smallest increase since the quarter through July 2008, the Office for National Statistics said.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is trying to revive the economy in time for an election due by June 2010 as opinion polls show his Labour Party trailing the opposition Conservatives. Gross domestic product, which has dropped for five quarters, may have stopped shrinking during the three months through September, curbing job losses.
The unemployment rate in the three months through August as measured by International Labour Organisation standards was 7.9 percent, the statistics office said. That compares with 9.6 percent in the euro region, 9.8 percent in the U.S. and 5.5 percent in Japan.
Alliance & Leicester, a unit of Banco Santander SA, announced the closure of its Heritage House site and the loss of 200 jobs across two Leicester sites in England, the Communication Workers Union said yesterday in a statement.
Overall unemployment was 2.47 million in the quarter through August, a drop of 1,000 from the three months through July. The total claimant count rose to 1.63 million in September, the highest since April 1997.
Labour advanced in a survey by Populus Ltd. after ministers attacked bankers and the rich, narrowing the Conservatives’ lead over the government. Labour had the support of 30 percent of voters compared with 40 percent for the opposition, according to the survey for the London-based Times conducted from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11.
The U.K. economy shrank 0.6 percent in the second quarter, less than previously estimated, and the National Institute of Economics and Social Research said last week gross domestic product stopped falling in the three months through September.
Average earnings excluding bonuses grew an annual 1.9 percent in the quarter through August, the lowest since at least 2001, the statistics office said. Including bonuses, they increased by 1.6 percent.