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UK unemployment rises unexpectedly

The UK has been hit by surprise increases in both unemployment and benefit claimants, the latest official figures reveal.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows the number of people without work increased by 38,000 in the three months to June to reach 2.49m. The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 per cent.

Last month, the ONS said the unemployment rate dropped from 7.8 per cent to 7.7 per cent in the three months to May.

The latest rise is the first reported since the three months to February.

In addition, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in July stood at 1.56m, an increase of 37,100 from the previous month. This is the largest rise reported since May 2009.

The ONS’ figures also show the number of unemployed women has reached its highest level since the three months to May 1988, coming in at 1.05m.

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