More than a million British workers will lose their jobs over the next two years as the recession takes an unexpected turn, hitting the north and Midlands as badly as the south, a leading economic forecaster has warned.

The West Midlands, Wales and the north of England could take more than a decade to recover from job losses that are forecast to rival those in London, according to Oxford Economics.

Fresh unemployment figures due to be published tomorrow are expected to show a widespread rise in UK joblessness during the three months to January, taking the national total above 2m. However, as industrial output has fallen, the rising toll of job losses has confounded forecasts that the south, where the financial services sector is concentrated, would bear the brunt of the downturn.

Financial Times