United Kingdom’s unemployment rate held at a 13-year high of 8.4% in the three months to January, and the youth unemployment rate rose to a record high, official data showed Wednesday.
The figures will increase the pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to take measures to boost growth and jobs when he presents his 2012/13 budget next week, at a time when the economy is struggling to show sustainable recovery.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics said that the number of people claiming jobless benefit rose by 7.00 - slightly more than economists had forecast - to a 1.612 million in February, the highest since November 2009.
Unemployment on the broader ILO measure slipped to 2.666 million for the November-January period from 2.671 million in the three months to December, but the overall rate held at 8.45, the highest since late 1995.
Osborne is all but certain next week to stick to his five-year austerity program which aims to largely eliminate Britain's budget deficit. A major plank of this involves reducing the level of public sector employment, and hoping that the private sector will take up the slack.
The politically sensitive number of young people without a job rose to 1.042 million in the three months to January, taking the jobless 16 to 24year-olds to 22.5%, the highest since record began in 1992.
The government has been relying on private firms to create enough employment to make up for the estimated 700.00 jobs it is cutting in the public sector as part of its austerity program, aimed at erasing the country's huge budget deficit over the next five years.