Jobless claimant count posts shock rise
LONDON (Reuters) - The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefit rose unexpectedly in May, official data showed on Wednesday, in the latest sign of the economy's ill health .
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people claiming jobless benefit rose by 8,100 last month. Analysts had forecast a fall of 3,000 on the month.
However, the number of people without a job on the wider ILO measure fell by 51,000 in the three months to April to 2.615 million.
The jobless rate held at 8.2 percent as forecast.
Average weekly earnings growth including bonuses accelerated to 1.4 percent versus forecasts for a rise of 0.8 percent. Excluding bonuses, pay grew by 1.8 percent in line with expectations.
The figures underscore the extent of the economy's weakness, which prompted a decision last week by the central bank and government to flood Britain's financial system with billion s of pounds over the coming months to try to get a recovery moving.
Separate data showed that public sector employment dropped by 39,000 to 5.899 million in the first quarter.
The government has been relying on private firms to create enough employment to make up for the estimated 700,000 jobs it is cutting in the public sector as part of its austerity programme, aimed at erasing the country's huge budget deficit.
However, surveys showed earlier this month that growth in permanent job placements slowed in May and employers expected to take on fewer new staff in the months ahead.
(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova and Jonathan Cable)
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