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Unemployment rate climbs to 4.5% – highest for three years

Written by on 13 October 2020

Unemployment rose to 4.5% in the three months to August as the total number of jobless rose by 138,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The jobless rate, slightly higher than expected, was up from 4.1% the month before and the highest for more than three years.

The latest increase in unemployment took the total to 1.52 million, also the biggest number since early in 2017.

Data also suggested that, last month, there were 673,000 fewer people on UK payrolls than in March when the coronavirus lockdown started – though the number rose by 20,000 in September itself.

The payroll figures painted a picture of nearly half a million fewer people in work plus almost 200,000 who “said they were employed but were currently not working nor earning any money”, said Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics.

Mr Athow added: “Since the start of the pandemic there has been a sharp increase in those out of work and job hunting but more people telling us they are not actively looking for work.

“There has also been a stark rise in the number of people who have recently been made redundant.”

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I’ve been honest with people from the start that we would unfortunately not be able to save every job.

“But these aren’t just statistics, they are people’s lives.

“That’s why trying to protect as many jobs as possible and to helping those who lose their job back into employment, is my absolute priority.”