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UK unemployment rate surges as pandemic ravages the economy

The latest unemployment figures are likely to have a depressive effect on the Tory government

The UK unemployment rate has increased to its highest level in over three years as the full economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic begins to be felt.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate grew to 4.5 percent in the three months to August, compared with 4.1 percent in the previous quarter.

In addition, the ONS has reported that redundancies have risen to their highest level since 2009.

A closer analysis of the ONS data reveals that an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies rose to 227,000 people.

The ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics, Jonathan Athow, admitted there has been a “sharp increase” in the numbers of unemployed people and those actively seeking work since the onset of the pandemic in March.     

Speaking to the BBC’s Today program, Athow said: "Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular".  

Athow revealed that amongst the newly unemployed around 300,000 are aged 16-24, which constitutes roughly 60 percent of the drop in employment.

Athow described the impact of the coronavirus crisis on youth employment rates as “really disproportionate”.

The latest figures from the ONS is more bad news for the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who only last week told fellow Tory party members that austerity measures would be needed to cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.

But Sunak will likely face an uphill battle in trying to explain to economic experts and the broader public alike as to how austerity measures can stimulate employment across the country.

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