UK unemployment claims soared to 2.1mn last month

A woman walks past a closed shop on Camden High Street in London, Britain.

London, (Asian independent) The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the UK soared to 2.1 million in April, the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.

According to ONS figures, the total number in April went up by 856,500, reports the BBC.

Separate ONS figures showed UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March.

The unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9 per cent, slightly down on the previous quarter, the ONS said.

Before the lockdown began, employment had hit a record high.

The benefit claimant count does not include everyone who is out of work, since not everyone is entitled to claim assistance, but it does indicate the trend in the employment market.

The unemployment figures only cover the first week of the lockdown and the total was likely to worsen sharply in the coming months.

Jagjit Chadha, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, told the BBC: “We can reasonably expect unemployment to rise very quickly to something over 10 per cent – something we haven’t seen since the early 1990s.”