Britain’s unemployment rate hit 5.0 percent at the end of 2020, the highest level for more than four-and-a-half years, as coronavirus lockdowns destroyed jobs.
The Office for National Statistics in a statement said the rate for the three months to the end of November compares with 4.9 percent in the quarter to October.
At 5.0 percent, the figure is 1.2 percentage points above the same period a year earlier, to reach the highest level since April 2016.
Analysts expect unemployment to surge further when the UK government’s furlough scheme paying the bulk of wages for millions of private-sector workers stops at the end of April.
The ONS added that between February last year, ahead of Britain’s first lockdown, and December, the number of payroll employees dived by 828,000.
The data comes one day after administrators for collapsed UK department store chain Debenhams said it planned to shut all its outlets, costing around 12,000 jobs.