Rise in unemployment


The latest official figures show that unemployment in the UK rose by 11,000 in March.

The total number of people claiming unemployment benefit has now reached 828,700, thanks to the biggest monthly rise in unemployment since May 2003.

However, according to the Office for National Statistics, this rise in unemployment has come at the same time as an increase in the number of people in jobs.

Between December and February, while 29,000 more people claimed unemployment benefit, the total number of British people in jobs rose by 148,000 to 28,639,000.

Today's figures drew critical responses from the opposition parties, with David Willetts, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, saying that the figures were "terrible news" for Labour.

Mr Willetts said: "On the day they launch their election manifesto, Government figures show unemployment has risen by another 30,000 last quarter. And as if the troubles at Rover weren't bad news enough, another 14,000 manufacturing jobs were lost.

"Last month Gordon Brown assured us that under Labour, manufacturing industries would grow again. But since he said those words, another 6,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost."

Dr Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats treasury spokesman, also noted that the news would be "embarrassing" for Labour.

Dr Cable, said: "This increase in the number of people unemployed will cause embarrassment to Labour on the day they launch their manifesto and trumpet their economic record.

"Labour's manifesto promises continued support for manufacturing. Considering that a million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1997, this promise will ring hollow with those left in the sector."