The Times reports that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance also jumped by 77,900 in December to 1.16 million.
CIPD chief economist John Philpott says the next lot of official figures will show unemployment rising to 2 million: “We are entering the dark days and should be prepared for a depressing period when – as in the 1980s and 1990s recessions – the benefit claimant count will rise by more than 100,000 each month. And even on the most optimistic of scenarios around 1 in 10 people will be unemployed by the time the jobs recovery begins.”
Philpott adds: “The autumn saw a surge in redundancies even before the spate of widespread job cuts that started to hit the headlines this month. This is in line with the CIPD’s expectation that the total level of redundancies will reach 300,000 in the first quarter of 2009, with the economy set to shed at least 600,000 jobs overall during the course of the year.
“For the first time in this downturn every sector of the economy registered a fall in vacancies. And with more employers across a variety of sectors putting staff on short-time there has been the first noticeable fall in working hours since the start of the downturn."
CBI director-general Richard Lambert also believes the numbers are going to become more depressing. “The combination of falling demand and global credit constraints is pushing unemployment sharply higher,” he says. “But there will be some powerful stabilising forces kicking in later this year, including the impact of interest rate cuts, falling inflation and the fiscal stimulus. “We hope Monday’s package of measures will also help to reassure viable companies that they won’t run into trouble in the coming months because of a lack of credit.”