1. Economics
May 19, 2020updated 12 Jul 2022 8:13am

Unemployment claims rise by 69%, highest rate on record

By Nicu Calcea

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has increased to 2.1 million in April 2020 – up 856,500 in a month, and the highest level since 1996.

The figures, released this morning by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), shows that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or searching for work under Universal Credit rules has increased by 69.1% in just one month. This is the largest jump the DWP has ever recorded.

Rural and tourist areas have been hardest hit – with unemployment triple or quadruple what it was a year ago in some parts of Cumbria, Devon and Snowdonia.

The region with the largest increase in unemployment claims was the South West, where the numbers almost doubled. Meanwhile, the West Midlands saw the smallest increase of 50.9%.

A breakdown of the figures by parliamentary constituency showed the claimant count stood at 1,690 in Westmorland and Lonsdale in Cumbria – up 312% compared to the 410 it stood at in April last year.

East Devon was up 265%, Dwyfor Meirionnydd in Snowdonia up 259% and Central Devon up 249% on a year-on-year basis.

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Around 1.5m people claimed Universal Credit between 13 March and 9 April alone, over six times more than last year.

This figure doesn’t reflect just unemployment — some self-employed and furloughed employees could also claim Universal Credit.

Hiring has also suffered from the coronavirus lockdown. The number of vacancies available has gone from around 865,000 in April 2019 to only 351,000 this year, meaning those without a job will find it even more difficult to find one.

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