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Unemployment rises to highest level for two years - but worse to come warns BCC

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for almost two years, according to the latest labour market figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate grew to 4.1% in the three months to July, compared with 3.9% previously.

Young people were particularly hard-hit, with those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups. Some 695,000 UK workers lost their jobs since March, when the Coronavirus lockdown began.

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said the furlough scheme continued to limit the pandemic’s full impact on headline job figures and said the full impact of Coronavirus on the UK labour market was yet to come.

He said: “While there was a rise in the number of job vacancies, this is more likely to reflect a temporary bounce as the economy gradually opened, rather than a meaningful upturn in demand for labour. With many firms are still facing waves of cash flow problems, rising costs and an uncertain economic outlook, it is probable that unemployment will escalate sharply as Government support winds down.

“To help avoid a damaging cliff edge for jobs more must be done help firms keep staff on through this deeply challenging period. This should include a significant cut in employer National Insurance Contributions and more substantial support for firms placed under local lockdowns.”

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