Manufacturing losses push up jobless total

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The Independent Online

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit has increased for the third month in a row following another huge cut in manufacturing jobs, new figures showed today.

The claimant count rose by 3,200 in December to 963,500, a jobless rate of 3.2%.

The Government­preferred ILO figure, which includes people not eligible for benefit, increased by 15,000 to 1,522,000 in September to November compared with the previous quarter.

Another 146,000 manufacturing jobs were axed in the three months to November, taking the total number of jobs in the sector to a record low of 3.7 million.

Virtually all manufacturing industries cut jobs in the past few months, especially electrical and optical equipment, textiles, leather and clothing and mineral and metal products.

Average earnings increased by 4.2% in the year to November, down by 0.1% on the previous month, according to today's data from the Office for National Statistics.

Earnings growth in the public sector continued to outpace rises in private firms at 5.4% compared with 3.9%, although both figures were down from the previous month.

The number of people in jobs has also increased in recent months despite rising unemployment.

The employment level was 28.2 million in the quarter to November, an increase of 65,000 over the three months.

The claimant count and International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures have both increased for three months in a row, the first time that has happened for almost 10 years.

The claimant count is now at its highest level since May last year.

Other figures released today showed that 193,000 people were made redundant last autumn, the highest number for three years.

Almost half those made redundant had found another job within three months.

The ILO unemployment rate in the UK remains lower than the European average.

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: "Employment continues to rise, with this month's figures showing a record 28.2 million people in work.

"This rise and the fact that we are getting 10,000 new vacancies in JobCentres every working day shows that the UK labour market is coping well so far with the current economic uncertainty."

Mr Darling said unemployment was still lower than a year ago, despite today's increase in the claimant count.

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