The official UK unemployment rate for the three months to April held steady at 3.9 per cent as the massive state wage support put in place by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak shielded job losses and redundancies.
Economists fear further negative impact on the jobs market. (Image for representation: AP)
The number of people on company payrolls in the UK fell by 612,000 during the March to May period of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, according to official statistics released in London on Tuesday.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the number of people claiming work-related state-funded employment benefits, such as jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit, was up 126 per cent to 2.8 million. And, the number of people temporarily out of work, including furloughed or forced leave workers, rose by 6 million at the end of March into April, leading to a large fall in total hours worked.
“The slowdown in the economy is now visibly hitting the labour market, especially in terms of hours worked,” said Jonathan Athow, ONS Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics.
Overall, the official UK unemployment rate for the three months to April held steady at 3.9 per cent as the massive state wage support put in place by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak shielded job losses and redundancies.
Reflecting that trend, the ONS said the total number of weekly hours worked in the period of the lockdown dropped to 959.9 million – down by a record 94.2 million or 9 per cent on the previous year.
There had also been a record fall in job vacancies in the same period to 476,000, down 342,000 from the previous quarter.
Separate figures published by the UK’s tax department showed that a total of 9.1 million workers are having their wages paid through the government’s furlough scheme or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – more than a quarter of the country’s workforce.
Economists fear further negative impact on the jobs market, with the unemployment figure rising further by the end of the year, as some of these emergency government support schemes taper off in the coming months.
The employment figures come days after official data showed the UK economy shrunk by a fifth in the first month of lockdown.