UK unemployment hits three-year high

The unemployment rate in the UK has climbed to its highest level in over three years, according to the latest labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to impact businesses across the country, the headline unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in the three months to August from 4.1% in the previous quarter.

An estimated 1.5 million people were out of work between June and August and employers made 227,000 redundancies, a record increase of 114,000 on the quarter.

ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow told the BBC’s Today programme that there had been a “sharp increase” in those out of work and job hunting since March.

“Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular,” he said.

Trade union body the TUC warned that the UK is “on the precipice of an unemployment crisis” and called for more support from the UK Government.

“Wage replacement should be 80% for businesses who have to shut,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.

“We need a more generous short-time working scheme for firms which aren’t required to close but will be hit by stricter local restrictions. And self-employed people in local lockdown areas need help too.”