Britain ‘at risk of five-year jobs hell’

Economists warn that the coronavirus crisis could see a return to the persistent and damaging levels of unemployment of the 1980s, with the jobless rate averaging 10% or more for the next five years.

Official figures last week provided the first glimpse of the jobless surge to come, with a record rise of more than 850,000 in universal credit claimants, taking the total to 2.1 million last month. This was despite the government’s furlough scheme, which is intended to cushion the impact of the crisis on unemployment. Vacancies fell at a record rate.

A rise to 10% in the unemployment rate would see nearly 3.5 million people out of work. According to the Resolution Foundation think tank, that is the danger for the next five

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