BUSINESS leaders have warned of further rises in unemployment despite a slight improvement in the UK economy.
The British Chambers of Commerce said sales were up for manufacturers and service companies in the first three months of 2006.
But it added that the upturn was "very fragile" and there was "a distinct risk that unemployment will increase further".
The warning followed official figures which showed that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit had risen to its highest level in almost three years.
The BCC said exports improved markedly for both the manufacturing and service sectors.
Domestic sales were also up, but remained "relatively weak".
The BCC said cashflow, profitability confi- dence and employment levels were down.