UK unemployment rate overtakes US for first time since recession started

Will Straw compares the UK's record on jobs with the US's: We no longer look so hot.


For the first time since the Great Recession began in the second quarter of 2008, the UK has a higher unemployment rate than the United States.

Data out today shows the UK unemployment rate for the period September to December 2011 was up 0.1 percentage point to 8.4 per cent. By contrast, the latest US jobs figures which were released earlier this month, fell to 8.3 per cent.

The graph below compares the US and UK unemployment rates published each month since 2003. UK data is collected on a quarterly basis on a 6 week lag while US data is published for the month just passed.

Nonetheless, the comparison clearly shows the current trend with US unemployment falling at a time when the UK’s unemployment is still rising. US unemployment is at its lowest level in almost three years while UK unemployment is at the highest rate since 1995.

The UK had been commended during the Great Recession for keeping levels of job losses comparatively low despite the rapid fall in GDP. Schemes like the Future Jobs Fund, scrapped by the coalition government, appeared to hold off sharp increases in unemployment of the kind suffered by the United States. The latest figures show that this accolade is no longer justified.

See also:

Growth in jobs probably not enough to bring down unemploymentRichard Exell, February 8th 2012

Ken stays ahead as Boris doubles-down on blaming young people for youth unemploymentAlex Hern, January 23rd 2012

“The PM is wrong: the labour market is very weak”Richard Exell, January 18th 2012

Employment agencies: Jobs picture is even worse than you might imagineRichard Exell, January 11th 2012

Unemployment hits 17-year high – record number of young people out of workShamik Das, October 12th 2011

46 Responses to “UK unemployment rate overtakes US for first time since recession started”

  1. Employment figures mask the rise in under-employment | Left Foot Forward

    […] unemployment rose by 0.1 per cent on the quarter (as Will Straw has noted it is now higher than the US for the first time since the Great recession began), youth […]

  2. anonymous

    I’m sure we could all randomly pick two unrelated nations’ (who in so many ways are not like for like) economic statistics and come up with some significant sounding fact that actually means absolutely nothing at all….

    So my response is SO WHAT?

  3. Anonymous

    Just to give you an example. UK GDP performed exactly the same as German GDP in the fourth quarter of 2011?

  4. Paul Gosling

    UK unemployment now higher than US for first time since 2008 recession

  5. Simon Blanchard

    UK unemployment now higher than US for first time since 2008 recession

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