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2 million out of work

MORE than two million people are unemployed with 2,000 now losing their jobs EVERY DAY.
 
New figures to be released on Wednesday are expected to show the number has rocketed by 176,000 in three months to 2.04 million.
 
And experts predict it will reach 3.3 million by late next year—meaning one in ten are out of work.
 
The International Labour Organisation stats include people seeking work but not claiming benefits as well as those on the dole.
 
And the figure for jobless benefit claimants will show the biggest increase in a generation.
 
Claimant count unemployment is forecast to have climbed 90,000 in February, on top of a 73,800 rise in January.
 
That would be the biggest monthly increase since March 1991 and take the claimant count to 1.3 million.
 
Analysts say things can only get worse. Many of the recent job losses are yet to feed into the official data.
 
Howard Archer, the chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, predicts unemployment will hit 3.3 million on the ILO count by late 2010 or early 2011.
 
That would make 10.5 per cent of the workforce jobless.
 
And those lucky enough to have jobs will see their earnings fall below Bank of England expectations. New figures this week will show average earnings growth at three per cent in the three months to January.
 
That is well below the 4.5 per cent level the Bank expected with its two per cent inflation target. And there will be more bad news for the government on Thursday when details of the dismal state of the ravaged public finances are revealed.
 
The Treasury’s tax receipts have been decimated by slumping economic activity, rising unemployment, the VAT cut and the devastated housing market. At the same time the sharp rise in unemployment has seen benefit payments soar.
 
Figures will show a gaping hole in the nation’s finances—far worse than even the Chancellor feared.
 
The deficit between government income and spending, which has to be met through borrowing, is expected to hit £90 billion. That is more than 10 times the £811 million shortfall in January 2008.
 
In November’s Pre-Budget Report Alistair Darling forecast it would be £77.6 billion. But even that shocking amount now looks hopelessly optimistic. The figure could be as high as £150 billion next year.
 
Mr Archer said: “Reports of companies laying off workers are prevalent while an increasing number are folding.”
 
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May said: “Labour has failed to grasp the true social and human cost of unemployment. James Purnell’s decision to close a job centre every week last year has meant the unemployed can’t get the real help they need.”

 

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