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UPDATE 4-UK jobless rate hits 4.5% as work-protection plan nears end

Tue, 13th Oct 2020 07:19

* Jobless rate hits 4.5% vs Reuters poll forecast 4.3%

* Employment falls by 153,000, more than expected

* Revisions show big falls in employment in previous months

* Record rise in redundancies

* Vacancies show record jump, too

* UK government is scaling back its jobs plan
(Adds details, comments from Resolution Foundation)

By William Schomberg and Andy Bruce

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Britain's unemployment rate rose
by more than expected in the three months to August, before the
end of the government's broad coronavirus job-protection plan
and the imposition of new restrictions to slow the pandemic.

The jobless rate rose to 4.5%, its highest in more than
three years, from its previous reading of 4.1% and above a
forecast of 4.3% in a Reuters poll of economists.

The number of people counted as unemployed rose by the most
since 2009, during the global financial crisis, the Office for
National Statistics said.

"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," Jonathan
Athow, the ONS's deputy national statistician, said.

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

The ONS data showed redundancies jumped by a record 114,000
on the quarter to 227,000, their highest level since 2009.

The number of people in employment fell by 153,000, much
higher than a median forecast for a fall of 30,000 in the
Reuters poll, and the ONS revised up sharply its estimate for
employment losses in previous months.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak reiterated on Tuesday that his
priority remained to slow the rising job losses. However, he is
replacing a 50 billion-pound wage-subsidy scheme, which expires
at the end of this month, with a less generous programme.

"I've been honest with people from the start that we would
unfortunately not be able to save every job," he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new system of
restrictions for England on Monday that will hit the hospitality
industry, and a minister said the government may have to go
further.

"With economic support falling just as lockdown restrictions
increase across the country, we should prepare for a major
increase in unemployment over the coming months," said Nye
Cominetti, an economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank.

The Confederation of British Industry said ramping up
testing was key to securing an economic recovery.

There were some positive signs in Tuesday's data.

Tax office figures showed the number of staff on company
payrolls rose by a monthly 20,000 in September, slightly
reducing the total number of job losses by that measure since
March to 673,000.

The number of job vacancies rose by the most on record in
the three months to September, although the total remained down
40% compared with a year earlier.

The Bank of England has forecast that the unemployment rate
will hit 7.5% by the end of the year. But BoE Governor Andrew
Bailey on Monday repeated his warning that the recovery could
prove weaker than the central bank's forecasts.

Britain's economy grew in August at its slowest pace since
May as its recovery from the lockdown slowed.

Scores of companies have announced plans to cut jobs since
the pandemic struck. Last week the owner of clothing retailers
Edinburgh Woollen Mills, Peacock's and Jaeger put 24,000 jobs at
risk by saying it was set for administration.

($1 = 0.7666 pounds)

(Reporting by William Schomberg and Andy Bruce; editing by
Catherine Evans, Larry King)

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