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Unemployment: two million and counting

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John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, adds: “The rise in the headline level of unemployment above two million is only part of the sorry story. Much more alarming is a surge in claimant unemployment in February – the monthly increase of 138,000 in the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance surpasses even the darkest days of rising unemployment in previous recessions.

“The only bright spots in the figures are increasing part-time employment and temporary working, which people are turning to as an alternative to the dole, and self-employment, though CIPD soundings suggest that this might reflect a noticeable tendency of some firms to cut in-house services and instead contract former employees to supply the same services as external suppliers.”

Philpott says men are being much harder hit than women, and that the recession is having a far bigger impact on employment for young people aged under-25.

Meanwhile, Tony Dolphin, senior economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, notes that things are only going to get worse.

He says: “Unemployment has increased by 421,000 over the last year and by 165,000 in the last three months alone. Surveys and anecdotal evidence suggest that the pace of job losses is not diminishing and it seems inevitable that unemployment will exceed three million before it peaks in this downturn.”

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