UK economy takes employment hit

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Britain's labour market saw unemployment levels rise in April, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

In total 21,000 more people became jobless when compared with the previous quarter while the unemployment rate – the government's preferred measure focussing on those of working age – rose by 0.1 per cent to 5.5 per cent.

Meanwhile the employment rate slipped 0.2 per cent on the previous quarter, as overall employment numbers fell by 47,000. Vacancies have increased but the claimant count fell slightly.

Today's figures follow a long period of stability for the UK employment market as the growth in employment seen during 2006 levels out.

Employment minister Jim Murphy said that "because of our reforms to the welfare state, more people on benefits have been looking for work and more people are taking up jobs".

"Our welfare reform bill is now in the final stages of its progress through parliament and… will make a real impact on people's lives, helping those who have not been helped before to take up the vacancies which are out there, move off incapacity benefit and help support themselves and their families."

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