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UK unemployment rises to highest for nearly a year


The UK’s unemployment rate has risen to its highest for almost a year as vacancies continued to shrink, according to official figures.

The jobless rate increased to 4.3% between January and March, the highest since May to July last year, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of vacancies also slowed meaning more unemployed people are competing for the same jobs.

The ONS suggested that the figures show the country’s job market is cooling.

Jobs on offer in the UK dropped by 26,000 to 898,000 vacancies between February and April. The total remains higher than pre-pandemic levels but Liz McKeown, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “With unemployment also increasing, the number of unemployed people per vacancy has continued to rise, approaching levels seen before the onset of Covid-19.”

The unemployment rate rose from 4.2% and Ms McKeown said: “We continue to see tentative signs that the jobs market is cooling.”

Data also shows that wage growth remained at 6%, the ONS said. It had been expected to slow to 5.9% in the first three months of this year but it continues to outstrip inflation, which grew by 3.2% in the year to March.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said wages rising would “help with the cost of living pressures on families”.

He added: “While we are dealing with some challenges in our labour supply, including pandemic impacts, as our reforms on childcare, pensions tax reform and welfare come online I am confident we will start to increase the number of people in work.”

But Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary, Alison McGovern, said “these damning new figures prove that things are just getting worse”.

She said: “It’s no wonder there are now a record number of people locked out of work due to long-term sickness, given NHS waiting lists are spiralling and the Tories have pushed our NHS to its knees.”



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