British Jobless Claims Climb to Their Highest Level in Nearly a Quarter Century 

More than 856,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in Britain in April, the largest number in nearly a quarter century. The large number of unemployment claims is another indication of how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced business closures and put people out of work. Britain’s Office of National Statistics said Tuesday April’s claims were the highest since 1996 and raised the number of jobless people to 2.1 million. The April figures represent only the first weeks of the nationwide lockdown, the ONS said. Economists have suggested Britain’s jobless situation could have been much worse if the government had not established a job-retention program that essentially put them on the government payroll. Britain’s unemployment rate was 3.9% in March, the last month for which all statistics are available, and economists expect it to approach 10% by the fall. An unemployment rate of 10% would still fall far short of the rate in the U.S., where it climbed to 14.7% in April, and is predicted to increase more in the coming months.  

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