Workers on United Kingdom payrolls tumble and benefit claims soar during lockdown

Marco Green
June 16, 2020

United Kingdom workers on company payrolls slumped by more than 600,000 between March and May and benefit 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%.

The furlough scheme is due to run until the end of October although employers have to make contributions to the cost of paying their temporarily laid-off workers from August. On Monday, building materials firm Travis Perkins said it would cut about 9% of its workforce, or 2,500 jobs.

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".

"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 when the biggest job losses occurred.

The ONS said early estimates showed the number of paid employees dropped by 2.1% 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.

United Kingdom jobless claims remained over 500,000 in April which was higher than expected but lower than March's number which was revised up to a whopping 1.32 million from 856,000.

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.

Claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes jumped 23.3% month-on-month in May to 2.8 million and have rocketed 125.9% or 1.6 million since March, when the United Kingdom was placed in lockdown.

"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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