THE Government was given more bad economic news today when unemployment jumped by 60,000 and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance increased at the highest monthly rate for over 15 years.
The jobless total grew to 1.67 million in the three months to June, the worst for over a year, giving a new unemployment rate of 5.4%, up by 0.2% on the previous quarter.
Total unemployment, including people not eligible for benefit, is now 15,000 higher than a year ago.
The claimant count increased by 20,100 in July to 864,700, the sixth consecutive monthly rise and the highest total since May of last year.
July saw the biggest monthly increase since December 1992, and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance is now 10,900 higher than a year ago.
Manufacturing jobs continued to be lost, down by 37,000 in the latest quarter to a record low of 2.88 million.
Vacancies were also down, by 47,000 in the three months to July to 634,900.
Despite the rise in the jobless figures, the number of people in work rose by 20,000 between April and June to 29.56 million, the second highest on record.
The figure was swelled by a big rise in the number of post-retirement people in work.
The number of women aged over 60 and men over 65 in work increased by 25,000 to reach a record 1.3 million, according to today's data from the Office for National Statistics.
There was better news for the Government on the wages front, with new figures showing that average earnings growth fell back by 0.4% in the year to June to 3.4%.
The increase in average earnings fell back by 0.4% to 3.5% in private firms and by 0.2% to 3.3% in the public sector.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a relative, on long-term sickness or who have given up looking for work, fell by 3,000 over the latest three months to 7.88 million, just over 20% of the working age population.
Around 126,000 people were made redundant in the three months to June, up by 14,000 from the quarter to March.
There were 6,000 working days lost through industrial disputes in June, giving a cumulative 12-month figures of 931,000, more than twice as many as in the year to June 2007.