The number of people out of work in Britain hit the highest level in more than 17 years in October.
In addition, the jobless figures look set to rise further as the government lays off workers to reduce public spending and private companies — facing the threat of a renewed recession — or cut back on staff or do not hire.
In the three months to October the number of unemployed Britons rose by 128,000 to just under 2.64 million and 22 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds do not have a job.
And many of those looking for work, like Michelle Pouyioukkas, are becoming disheartened: “After you have sent 20 applications for jobs and you only hear from one, and that is sometimes just to say ‘No thank you’ it is quite soul-destroying, so I tend to get fed up and say ‘What’s the point?’”
Responding to opposition criticism in parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron said unemployment was rising because of public sector job loses and the private sector not creating them fast enough, which underlined the need to get Britain’s economy moving.
The government’s ability to boost employment is limited by its pledge to erase a budget deficit of nearly 10 percent.
At the end of November finance minister George Osborne announced further austerity steps to safeguard the top-rating for Britain’s government debt.
As the figures were released, the Bank of England’s chief economist Spencer Dale warned that Britain’s economy may shrink for one or two quarters before making a “gentle recovery” in the second half of the year.
The central bank has already responded to the gloomy outlook by pumping more money into the economy, and many BoE watchers expect the central bank to increase its asset purchases in February 2012.