Unemployment 'will hit two million next year'
Britain's unemployment figures are on the up, the government has revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that official jobless rate increased from 5.3 per cent to 5.5 per cent over May-July 2008.
This means that 81,000 people lost their jobs in the period, and that total unemployment has now reached 1.72 million.
Analysts took the latest statistics as further proof that Britain's economy is slowing down.
Groups such as the Confederation of British Industry and the European Commission are expecting the UK to enter a recession - in other words, six successive months of the economy shrinking rather than growing - before the end of the year.
Commenting on the new figures to the BBC, Trade Unions Congress general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It now looks very likely that total unemployment will reach two million during 2009.
"Unemployment is starting to accelerate."
EuroDebt director Kevin Still added: "It is not only the blue collar sectors that are worried about job security, projected job losses from the Lloyds take-over of HBOS alone could amount to 40,000 white collar workers being made redundant.
"The whole financial services sector is very vulnerable and this is likely to result in more people in serious debt, but with much higher unsecured balances and secured borrowings on property and vehicles. The current contraction in the lending market will mean that the short-term opportunity for re-employment at the same level may prove difficult."