Lockdown: More than 600000 workers lose jobs

Marco Green
June 16, 2020

The number of Britons claiming jobless benefit has surged by 125.9% since the beginning of the country's coronavirus lockdown in March, rising to more than 1.6m people.

The UK economy collapsed by a fifth in size in April from March, ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 41,000 in Britain.

The ONS said the United Kingdom unemployment rate between February and April was unchanged on January to March, at 3.9 per cent, or 1.3 million. Economists got expectations horribly wrong, pencilling in a rise in the unemployment rate to 4.7 per cent.

Economists believe the full impact on employment will not be felt until wage support schemes end in October.

While in the first quarter of 2020 there were around 800,000 job vacancies in the United Kingdom, between March and May that figure was cut in half, with just 476,000 vacancies now available in the country.

Elsewhere in its findings, the ONS revealed that the number of hours worked per week in the United Kingdom between March and May was down nearly 100 million hours on the previous year, showing the extent of the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on the economy in general.

"Early indicators for May show that the number of employees on payrolls were down over 600,000 compared with March". In May alone, it was 163,000 lower than in April.

Nationally, the ONS said early estimates showed the number of paid employees dropped by 2.1 per cent or 612,000 in May compared with March.

The ONS reported the largest quarterly decrease to the vacancies total since it began measuring them in 2001 with a fall of 342,000 to 476,000.

Johnson and finance minister Rishi Sunak are also reportedly considering increasing a tax incentive for small firms to hire workers, and suspending social security payments by employers.

The ONS said the number of hours worked per week dropped by the biggest amount on record, falling to 959.9 million in the three months to April from 1.041 billion in the three months to March, reflecting the scale of the jobs furlough scheme which covers about 9 million jobs.

"The Claimant Count was up again, though not all of these people are necessarily unemployed". Regular pay, excluding bonuses, grew by 1.7%, the weakest since January 2015.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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