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The Real Business pick of today’s headlines

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First up: the BBC business news.

New figures show that unemployment in the UK has risen above two million for the first time since 1997. And the future looks gloomier still as economists now predict it will go above three million next year.

"This is another milestone in the return of mass unemployment to the UK, and it will get worse before it gets better as unemployment always persists even after a recovery starts," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

This news follows the announcement that there are currently ten jobseekers for every vacancy advertised in UK jobcentres. And for those lucky enough to hang on to their jobs, it’s not all moonlight and roses either. One in ten UK firms is is freezing pay for staff in an attempt to control costs during the recession.

Over at The Independent, headlines are pretty dire too. The International Monetary Fund has revealed that Britain will be the only nation still in recession next year.

On the bright side, there’s a nice interview with Nicolas Bouvé, head of the renowned chocolatiers Godiva, who is bullish despite the gloom.

"When it comes to truly fantastic products, there is much evidence that people are even more determined to have the odd treat when times are difficult and they need cheering up," he says. "We have lived through many recessions before and lived to tell the tale and, so far, we don’t see any major problems this time round either."

Some good stories over on the Telegraph too. Gordon Brown is planning to take President Obama to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen eatery when he visits the UK for the G20 Summit. Oliver is said to be delighted. His heavily-pregnant wife Jools will have to miss all the fun, however, which is decidedly less "pukka".

And, in more celebrity news, it has been revealed that George Michael can now command as much as £1.6m for just one hour’s work. He recently played at Topshop magnate Philip Green’s 55th birthday, charging £1.5m for a few tunes.

Nice to know that some entrepreneurs can still afford to flash the cash, eh?

And that’s all for the morning round-up.

Real Business, over and out.

Are you freezing salaries at your business? Are your staff in uproar? Tell us all your workforce woes in the RB forum.

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