Unemployment Set To Break Two Million Mark

Unemployment is set to rise above the two million mark, official figures due out later are expected to show.

Last month, figures showed almost 1.98 million people - including those not eligible for benefit - were looking for work.

The statistics, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are set to show around 2.04 million people are now unemployed.

It is thought the figures will also show that more people are out of work since Labour came into power in 1997, when the total was just over two million.

The ONS figures are also expected to show a rise in those claiming Jobseeker's allowance for February. During January, the total rose 73,800 to 1.23 million.

Job losses across British industry have continued to climb in recent months, as the credit crunch has tightened its grip. This has lead to fear unemployment will soar well over three million next year on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) measure, which counts those not eligible for benefit.

"Reports of companies laying off workers are prevalent, while an increasing number of companies are folding," Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at HIS Global Insight, said.

"With the economy seemingly set to contract through 2009 and very possibly beyond before starting to recover gradually, we expect unemployment to rise to a peak of 3.3 million [by late 2010/2011].

"This would give an unemployment rate of around 10.5%."


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