UK unemployment rate released amid renewed national lockdown

The UK’s Office of National Statistics will today announce the number of Britons who claimed unemployment benefits for the month

Mike HewittGetty Images

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The UK’s Office of National Statistics will today announce the number of Britons who claimed unemployment benefits for the month of December.

In November, the claimant count increased by 64,300, placing unemployment at 2.7 million as the UK entered its second national lockdown. With a more contagious variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly, Health Minister Matthew Hancock has warned that the third lockdown will remain in place for the next several months as the vaccination program progresses. As a result, the UK is likely headed for a double-dip recession, the first since 1975.

The numbers released today will likely show a rise in unemployment, but likely not enough to spur a change in Treasury relief spending beyond the already extensive job furlough scheme. More likely are smaller, fiscal injections issued on an ad hoc basis toward overlooked sectors like the arts or hospitality.

Expect tensions to rise between Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, a noted Thatcherite, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a one-nation conservative. The large deficit that will emerge from the economic recovery will force the cabinet to debate whether to return to public sector austerity.

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