UK unemployment claims surge 69% as pandemic takes hold

LONDON (AP) — Unemployment claims in Britain jumped by 69% in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and hit the labour market. The Office of National Statistics says jobless claims surged by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April as compared to the month before. Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, says the figures covered only the first weeks of the lockdown.  He says employment for the month held up because furloughed workers still count as being employed but “hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction.’’