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We're using 'less' here because we're comparing the degree of the rise in unemployment between two 12-month periods. The question is trying to say that the rise in unemployment for the 12 months ended in September is 'less than' (not lower than) the rise in unemployment for the 12 months ended in June ('the previous quarter').
You can't say that the stock market rose "lower than" it did yesterday. You say it rose "less than" it did yesterday.
With that said, you can eliminate D and E.
C is out because it uses "they were". Rising is a state of doing something, not a state of being something.
B is out because we're talking about a plural subject - "employment costs" - and using "it" would only work with a singular subject.