Unemployment in Britain hits 8.4 percent

Jan. 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The unemployment rate in Britain reached 8.4 percent from September to November with a record number of dissatisfied part-time workers, national data shows.

The unemployment rate climbed higher than the 8.3 percent predicted by economists as the number of unemployed persons rose by 118,000 in the three-month stretch, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The number of unemployed, 2.68 million, is a 17-year high. The number of workers listed as "underemployed," which means they are working part time because no full-time job is available, rose by 44,000 in September to November to 1.31 million, the highest figure since 1992.

The number of persons listed as working for themselves rose by 101,000 to 4.12 million. But analysts said a sudden interest in independence was not behind the rise. Rather, the surging number of entrepreneurs is a sign that some unemployed workers are attempting to avoid government welfare, the newspaper said.

"The government's welfare-to-work programs are now clearly failing and the welfare bill is going through the roof," said Liam Byrne, the Labor Party's shadow work and pensions secretary.

"Unemployment has now soared to highest level for a generation and long-term youth unemployment has more than doubled since January last year. In America, Germany and Japan unemployment is either flat or falling. This is new proof that the Government must change course," he said.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling put a different spin on the figures.

"The overall level of unemployment is, and will remain, a major concern for the government. When you take into account our welfare reforms, the number of job seeker allowance claimants has actually fallen," he said.

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