UK employment shows biggest drop in over a decade

UK employment shows biggest drop in over a decade

The number of people in work in the UK has fallen by the largest amount in over a decade, new figures show.

It comes after the UK Government imposed a nationwide lockdown on 23 March to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Around 730,000 people have become unemployed since March, the Office for National Statistics official statistics (ONS) said — the biggest quarterly decrease since 2009.

Younger workers, older workers and those in lower-skilled jobs were worst hit.

“This is concerning, as it’s harder for these groups to find a new job or get into a job as easily as other workers,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS.

With many people furloughed, the ONS also registered a record low in the number of hours worked.

And there were pay decreases for those still working. Regular pay levels were down 0.2% compared with a year earlier — the first negative pay growth since records began in 2001, BBC News reported.

The next quarterly figures are expected to show a big increase in unemployment as the furlough scheme winds down.

Jeremy Thomson-Cook, chief economist at Equals Money, said that the true level of those out of work had been “very effectively lowered” by the job retention scheme and the worst was still to come.

“Unfortunately, the end of the furlough scheme will present a cliff-edge, statistically and economically, for those currently relying on government support to make up their wages,” he warned.

Capital Economics forecasts that the unemployment rate will rise from 3.9% to around 7% by mid-2021.