The number of people out of work in Britain and claiming jobless benefits rose less than expected in May and it was the smallest increase since last July.
Even so, it was still enough to push the unemployment rate for the first three months of the year in the UK to 7.2 percent of the working population, its highest in more than a decade. The number of people in work fell by 270,000, the biggest drop since records began in 1971. Economists said although the pace of job shedding seemed to be slowing it was too soon to say if a turning point has been reached. On the UK economy generally, the latest word from the Bank of England is that the risk of a deeper slump is receding. The minutes of the latest Monetary Policy Committee meeting show Governor Mervyn King and his colleagues voted unanimously to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent and maintain the central bank’s 125 billion pound quantatitive easing programme.