Workers on United Kingdom payrolls falls in May, vacancies plunge

Marco Green
June 16, 2020

United Kingdom workers on company payrolls slumped by more than 600,000 between March and May and unemployment claims soared by 1.6 million as the coronavirus lockdown hammered Britain's labour market, official figures have revealed.

Economists polled by Reuters had mostly expected a rise in the unemployment rate to 4.7%.

Many companies have already announced permanent layoffs of workers. Airlines have shed more than 15,000 jobs in Britain.

Early estimates for May 2020 from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information (PAYE RTI) indicate that the number of payroll employees fell by 2.1% (612,000) compared with March 2020.

Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said: "These are the first labour market statistics to include a full month of lockdown measures, and show clearly the scale of the challenge facing Scotland as a result of the coronavirus pandemic". In May alone, it was 163,000 lower than in April when the biggest job losses occurred.

The number of people on United Kingdom payrolls dropped by 612,000 between March and May, according to early data from the Office for National Statistics and HM Revenue and Customs that is starting to show the depth of the hit to the economy from the pandemic.

Vacancies also collapsed to just 476,000 in the three months to May - down 342,000 over the quarter - as United Kingdom plc puts an abrupt brake on hiring and instead focuses on shedding staff.

The ONS said jobless claims under Universal Credit jumped 23.3% month-on-month in May to 2.8 million and soared 125.9% or 1.6 million since March when the United Kingdom was placed in lockdown.

The ONS has said the claimant count nearly certainly overstates the rise in unemployment because it includes people who are in work but are entitled to support.

That left the number of people on payrolls 1.7% lower than in May 2019, the ONS said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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