UK unemployment rose by 131,000 to 1.92 million between September and November, the highest total since September 1997, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed yesterday.
The unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent for the three months to the end of November, compared with 5.2 per cent in the same period of 2007.
There were 225,000 redundancies in the three month period, and at least 500 further job cuts were announced yesterday.
The Princes’ Trust warned that 45 per cent of those who became unemployed in the last three months were under the age of 25.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘There is no disguising how bad today’s employment figures are.’
He added: ‘These figures stop at November 2008 and do not take into account the redundancies announced over the past eight weeks at companies like Woolworths, Santander, Barclays, Denby, Land Rover, JCB, Burberry, Zavvi, Grattan and Empire Direct.
‘Unfortunately, it seems certain that unemployment will continue to rise for at least the first six months of 2009, with a very strong chance it will pass the 2.5 million mark by June.’
GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny said: ‘This “bankers recession” is going to get a lot worse.
‘Putting taxpayers’ money into the banks is not working in terms of getting money to companies.
‘A change of approach is urgently needed to save job losses in the pipeline.
‘As an emergency measure the government must take control of the banks already in state hands and use them to do this job.’
Meanwhile, new Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker told MPs on the Business and Enterprise Committee that the Bank is getting ready to print money.
He said: ‘In the first phase the Bank will purchase corporate bonds and other corporate securities but financed by the issue of some Treasury Bills by the government.
‘There will be no monetary financing or creating of money by the Bank during that phase.
‘The second phase, if ever we reach it, which will be a decision for the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee), would occur only when our interest rate reached zero.
‘At that point, the MPC would have discretion to buy these assets by issuing Bank of England money.’
He agreed: ‘That is printing money. It’s not pound notes but it is creating Bank of England money, absolutely.’
l The UK public sector net borrowing requirement, needed to fund government spending in December 2008, hit £44.2bn, the highest on record. Almost half of that came from bailing out the Royal Bank of Scotland, with another £2bn spent on shoring up Bradford & Bingley.
At the same time, UK mortgage lending fell by 30 per cent in 2008 to the lowest level since 2002, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.
Lending totalled £256.4bn last year, compared with £363.7bn in 2007.