British Unemployment Reaches Decade High

By Agence France-Presse Unemployment in Britain shot up by almost 10,000 during May, the biggest monthly rise in more than a decade, but the jobless rate held steady at 3.1%, official figures showed on June 11. Particular gloom was felt in the country's long-beleaguered manufacturing sector, which saw worker numbers fall by 137,000 in the three months to April, the National Statistics office said. The remaining number of employees in manufacturing jobs, 3.53 million, is the lowest level ever recorded since the data was first recorded in 1984. The May increase in overall unemployment, the biggest since December 1992, was far more than predicted by economists, who had expected a rise of around 2,000. Coupled with revised figures for April showing a rise in unemployment of 2,100 -- against an initial measure of a 2,100 drop -- the latest numbers mean the claimant count has been rising continually since January. Under the International Labor Organization's broader measure, Britain's unemployment rose by 36,000 in the three months to April to 1.5 million. The ILO figure equates to an unemployment rate of 5.1%, unchanged from the previous three months. Other figures showed that total employment stood at 27.87 million in the three months to April, up 51,000 from the previous three months and up 242,000 from a year ago. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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