Jobless claims in the U.K. rose more than expected in February, and the three-month unemployment rate stayed at its highest in 16 years, showing that Britain has a way to go before finding its way out of its economic woes.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that data from the Office for National Statistics indicated that claims for unemployment benefits rose by 7,200 from January to 1.612 million, the twelfth increase in a row. A Bloomberg survey of economists had resulted in a median forecast of 5,000 jobless claims. Unemployment stood at 8.4% for the three months through January–the most it has been since 1996.
The rise in the rate of claims may push criticism that cuts in government spending by Prime Minister David Cameron are too aggressive as he attempts to reduce Britain’s deficit. Consumer confidence is sagging, based in part on fears of job loss, and the country’s economy contracted in Q4 of 2011.