UK’s unemployment claims rises nearly 70% in April — its highest level since 1996

  • UK’s unemployment claims soared nearly 70% to its highest level since 1996 as 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits in April.
  • The claimant count increase of 856,000, or 69.1%, in a single month represents a record high for the UK since records began in the early 1970s.
  • The country’s benchmark FTSE-100 slipped into the red on Tuesday after the release of jobs data. However, analysts expected a worse outcome.
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The UK’s unemployment claims rose nearly 70% to its highest level since 1996, as 2.1 million people filed for benefits in April during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of unemployment claims rose by 856,000, or 69.1%, according to data released Tuesday by the Office of National Statistics. The escalating number represents a record high for the UK economy since comparable records began in the early 1970s.

UK Claimant Count level increased by 69.1% in April 2020 ONS

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Between January to March 2020, the ONS recorded 1.35 million unemployed people in the UK. That represents an increase of 50,000 compared to a year earlier. Out of this estimate, 44,000 alone were men.

To be precise on the specifics of the data, ONS said in a statement: “Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks.”

The Research Foundation, a British think tank, expects to see a big rise in unemployment data next month. Analysts expected April jobs data to be worse than the outcome.

“After ducking the expected ballooning of unemployment claims in March, April reflected the fact that the pain was merely delayed by a month,” Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said in a note.

“The claimant count change for last month rose by 856,500 – to put that in perspective, March’s increase was 5.4k, while analysts were forecasting an increase of 675,000.”

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The ONS categorizes unemployment claims under a measure known as “claimant count” which consists of the UK’s benefit system. Currently, it includes a combination of jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit.

UK’s unemployment rate was held at 3.9%, slightly higher than the previous quarter.

Total number of weekly hours worked was 1,040.6 million, a drop of 12.4 million from the previous year. The largest decrease in work hours was found to be in the accommodation and food services industry.

The greatest decrease in average actual weekly hours worked was in accommodation and food services. ONS

The UK’s FTSE-100 slid into the red on Tuesday falling 0.6% during intraday trading.

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