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Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Unemployment tops two million
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat reporter

The Needles
The Isle of Wight is known for the dramatic Needles - and now unemployment

The number of people out of work in the UK has jumped past the two million mark.

The Isle of Wight is one of the worst hit areas in the UK, according to the TUC.

They claim 60 candidates are competing for every position at the local job centre.

Latest statistics show UK unemployment is at its highest rate since 1997 with younger, less experienced workers being hit hardest.

Unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds is running at 14.6% compared with just 6.5% for all age groups.

Under 25s 'first'

419,000 under 25s were claiming jobseeker's allowance in February, up from 244,000 at this stage last year, a rise of more than 70%.

In theory it is illegal for employers to discriminate on age.

But younger staff tend to be among the first to be let go in a downturn as they have less experience and fewer skills.

Everyone is so scared about the credit crunch they are keeping their pennies hidden away
Unemployed builder Dan

Firms may also not have to pay compensation if staff have been employed for less than two years when they are laid off.

Newsbeat's been hearing from workers in their early twenties living in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Sixty people are chasing every new vacancy advertised at the local job centre, according to the TUC research, compared with a national average of just ten.

Temporary work

Debbie, 21, says the seasonal jobs market on the island, which is a popular holiday destination, is only partly to blame.

She told Newsbeat that jobs are always harder to find in the winter, and explained that this year has been particularly tough.

"If you are lucky enough to get an interview then there are too many people that are far more qualified getting in there first. It is just too hard," she said.

Her flatmate Dan, also 21, is a builder but has been out of work since the autumn.

"There is just nothing about," he said. "No-one has got money to have anything done to their house.

"Everyone is so scared about the credit crunch they are keeping their pennies hidden away.

"I applied for jobseeker's allowance back in October and they still haven't got back to me.

"I went in there and spoke to them and they said I'd have to wait because they have got so many people applying, they have a huge backlog."

Island suffers

The TUC say the Isle of Wight's suffering because both its two main industries, tourism and manufacturing, are in decline.

Across Britain a number of well-known companies have cut jobs since the start of the year, including RBS, Vodafone, JCB, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan.

Chains like Woolworths, Zavvi and Adams have also been forced to close because of the recession.

Other firms have put hiring plans on hold as they wait to see what effect the economic downturn will have on their business and how long it will last.

Most economists who study the jobs market reckon unemployment will continue to climb at least for the next year.

Oxford Economics, for example, reckons there will be 3.2 million people out of work by the middle of 2010.

The hardest hit areas of the country will be London, the West Midlands, Wales and the North of England.

But the picture is not completely grim across the whole country.

A number of large companies including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Sky TV and the fast food chains Subway and KFC say they plan to keep hiring thousands of staff despite the recession.

However, economists say many of the new jobs available may end up being temporary, lower paid work.

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