`UK has two-speed economy'

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THE HEARTLANDS of manufacturing in Britain face a jobs crisis, the Trades Union Congress warns in a report today, with the constituencies of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer among the hardest hit.

The North-east as a whole has seen the biggest increase in claimant unemployment in the past six months. Within the region, the Prime Minister's constituency, Sedgefield, has seen the largest rise, amounting to 6 per cent in the past year. In Scotland, Gordon Brown's seat, Dunfermline East, has suffered the biggest jump in joblessness - a rise of 14 per cent, according to the TUC analysis.

The warning from the unions comes on a day when official figures are expected to show an increase in the jobless total for last month. The total rose by 4,300 to just over 1.3m in February. The regional breakdown of the figures by the TUC shows a manufacturing divide with rising unemployment in the North. Constituencies across the services-dominated south of England have not suffered any increase in unemployment.

John Monks, TUC general secretary, said: "Britain is now a two-speed, two-nation economy. Manufacturing is moving into recession and the service sector continuing to expand."