More than a million people lost their jobs in the first half of the year as Britain’s economy was hit by the biggest recession since the 1930s, new figures show.
The Office for National Statistics said it had lost 1.1 million jobs since the start of the financial year, with the number of unemployed now at a record high of 15.3 million.
But the number remains higher than it was a year ago and unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression.
“The recession has continued for the sixth successive month, with employment now at its lowest level since December 2015,” the Office for Budget Responsibility said in a statement.
“This is partly due to the government’s austerity measures, including a cut to the National Living Wage and the scrapping of the personal allowance.”
The numbers come as a government-backed report said the UK economy was not growing at a sustainable rate.
Its analysis found the economic recovery had been “significantly weaker than previously expected”, with unemployment levels rising faster than inflation.
Despite the figures, the economy is still expected to grow by 2.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of this year and 2.9 per cent the year to March 2019, it said.
“While the economy remains strong, there are signs that growth is not sustainable and the public is beginning to worry about the future,” it added.
‘Worrying’ publicThe economy was growing faster than the previous two quarters and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) said it was forecast to grow at 1.8 per cent this year, 2.2 per cent next year and 3.1 per cent over the next two years.
It said the recovery had not been “strong enough to offset the contraction in real GDP and consumer spending that began at the start.”
The economy is not yet well-equipped to meet these challenges, with weaker growth in investment and manufacturing than was anticipated.
“The ONS also said that consumer confidence, which had been boosted by the Bank of England’s rate cut, had fallen to its lowest levels since February 2015.
More than 5.2 million people have been officially unemployed since the beginning of the downturn, the highest number since the recession began.
However, the number who have been out of work for more than six months fell to 5.1million from 6.7million in the previous six months.
A further 1.6million people have stopped looking for work because of the economic crisis, with an extra 1.2million people who had looked for work between December and March.
There were 1.3million people in the UK with a job but who had not looked for a job in the 12 months to March, according to the ONS.
Workforce figures also showed that 1.5 million people were unemployed in the month of January.
With inflation running at 2.5 per cent, the cost of living was also rising in the run up to the financial crisis.
For the first time, it also saw a rise in the number on zero-hours contracts, which can be paid to people for part of their work.
Meanwhile, unemployment was also higher in Wales than the rest of the UK, where it stood at 10.3 per cent.
UK unemployment, latest figures – data, charts and tables source BBC News article The figures showed that the number working part-time, and those who were unemployed for longer than six weeks, fell from 2.4 million to 2.1m in the year ending March, while those who had been out for less than six hours rose from 1.4m to 1.7m.
Overall, the unemployment rate in the EU rose from 10.2 to 11.1%.
The ONSA also revealed that the rate of people out of a job was higher in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than in England, with people working part time and those in full-time jobs at 5.4 per cent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
In Scotland, the rate fell from 9.6 to 8.9, while in Wales it rose from 7.7 to 8 per cent while in Northern Ireland, it rose by 3.4 to 3.9.
On a monthly basis, the UK has a total of 4.6 million people who are out of jobs, while it has 2.8 million unemployed people.
Statistics released by the ONSA this morning showed that unemployment in England and Wales has fallen by 1.9 million since the financial crash in 2008, while the figure for Scotland is down by 1,900 from December 2016.