Biggest jump in dole claimants for 15 years

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The Independent Online

The number of people on unemployment benefit saw its biggest jump in more than 15 years during June, official figures showed today.

In a fresh sign of economic gloom, those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 15,500 to 840,100, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This was the biggest monthly rise since December 1992 and the fifth consecutive rise in the claimant count, the ONS said.

May's figures showing a 9,000 rise were also revised sharply higher, giving a total of 14,300 new claimants during the month.

The number of claimants as a percentage of the workforce also rose, to 2.6 per cent, the figures showed.

But today's statistics have yet to fully reflect growing numbers of redundancies as the UK economy slows.

In recent weeks, the UK's biggest housebuilders have cut around 5,000 jobs as the credit crunch grows.

In the three months to May, 118,000 people were made redundant, up 10,000 on the previous quarter.

According to the ONS data, the total number of unemployed was 1.62 million in the three months to May, up 12,000 on the previous quarter. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.2 per cent.

Total employment levels reached a record 29.59 million during the quarter - the highest since 1971, reflecting an increase in the working age population.

But the number of job vacancies fell in the three months to June as the slowdown hit home. Vacancies stood at 655,100, down 32,200 on the previous quarter.

Manufacturing jobs showed a further decline in the three months to May, falling 36,000 to 2.89 million compared with a year earlier, the lowest since records began in 1978.

There was better news for inflation-watchers warning against spiralling pay settlements after the rate of annual earnings growth slowed 0.1 per cent to 3.8 per cent in the year to May, although April's figure was revised slightly higher.

Many economists expect this figure to drop further still as public sector payment settlements fall and bonuses weaken despite the current spike in inflation, and fears over a possible recession limit wage demands.