British joblessness tops 2m
Recession-hit Britain took a fresh blow Wednesday as official data showed two million people in the country claiming jobless benefits for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997.
Britain's unemployment rate jumped to 6.5 percent in the three months to January, also a 12-year high, said the Office for National Statistics.
The claimant count soared by 138,400 in February, the biggest monthly gain since records began in 1971 as Britain endures its first recession in 18 years.
The thirteenth consecutive monthly rise in claims was far higher than the market consensus estimate of 87,500, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
"The unemployment data are truly awful, heightening fears about the potential depth and length of the recession" in Britain, said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.