Unemployment has soared to an 11-year high after more than 150,000 people lost their jobs between July and September, official figures revealed today.
A total of 1.82 people are now out of work, up 140,000 over the three months, after a swathe of redundancies as Britain started to slide into recession.
Unemployment is now back to the same level as in 1997, the year Labour came to power. Experts fear it will hit two million by Christmas before rocketing even further.
Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said today: ‘For the next 12-18 months the only way for unemployment is up. The UK labour market is about to suffer the consequences of the once-in-a generation financial crisis.
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‘We think unemployment will reach 2.5 million by this time next year, peaking at around 2.8 million in 2010.’
Others fear it may peak even higher as the country battles its worst economic conditions for more than a decade on top of a crippling financial crisis.
‘The ILO measure of unemployment currently stands at 1.85 million and this is likely to push above three million over the same time period,’ ING economics James Knightley said.
In total, 156,000 people lost their jobs during the three months – a rise of 29,000 on the previous quarter, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The number of manufacturing jobs has now plunged to a record low, falling by 55,000 in the quarter to 2.86million. This is the lowest level since the first records in 1978.