Unemployment Figures Reach 11 Year High

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By Martyn Young

The number of people unemployed in the UK has increased by 140,000 over the last 3 months to 1.82 million people unemployed – the highest level for 11 years.

The official figures released by the government show that the unemployment rate rose to 5.8%, up from 5.4% in the previous quarter. The figures are a clear indication of the effect the credit crunch and global economic downturn is beginning to have on both businesses and employers and ordinary British citizens.

With the UK in the midst of an imminent recession and economic confidence at an all time low these figures could not come at a worse time. The Bank of England has announced in its latest set of forecasts that the economic gloom is only set to worsen as it produced it’s bleakest set of forecasts for over 10 years. The bank said that the UK is already in recession and the economy was likely to suffer well into 2009.

Trade Unions have reacted to the latest figures by urging the government to fight unemployment and protect the British public from job cuts and redundancies. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ” The signs are that redundancies are coming even faster since these figures were collected. Countering unemployment must be public priority number one.”

The global economic downturn has already forced many firms to downsize their workforce in order to cut costs with firms such as Virgin Media, Yell and GlaxoSmithKline announcing up to 5000 job cuts in the past week with an increase in redundancies across the country of 156,000 during the three months to September.

Derek Simpson, joint secretary of the Unite trade union also called for government action to help ordinary citizens through the economic troubles: “Only urgent and widespread action by government to protect jobs and homes will help hard-pressed families through the worst of this global turmoil.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown used his monthly press conference today to vow to help people suffering from unemployment: “My personal guarantee is to help every unemployed person and everybody looking for work into work.”