UK employment falls by biggest amount in over a decade


Employment in the UK fell by the largest amount in over a decade between April and June, official figures show.

The number of people in work decreased by 220,000 on the quarter, said the Office for National Statistics.

This was the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009, the depths of the financial crisis.

The youngest workers, oldest workers and those in manual occupations were the worst hit during the pandemic, the ONS added.

The figures do not include the millions of people who are furloughed, those on zero-hours contracts but not getting shifts, or people on temporary unpaid leave from a job, as they still count as employed.

As such, they do not capture the full impact of the pandemic. Similarly, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%, largely unchanged on the year and the previous quarter.

Employment rate

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “The groups of people most affected are younger workers, 24 and under, or older workers and those in more routine or less skilled jobs.

“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.”

How bad is this likely to get?

The UK economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, but unemployment has not surged as much as feared because large numbers of firms have furloughed staff.

However, analysts said unemployment was set to worsen in coming months as the scheme wound down, warning of a looming “cliff-edge” and a “lull before the storm”.

Claimant count

From restaurants to retailers, many UK businesses are already planning job cuts with 140,000 redundancies announced in June alone.

According to the ONS, the number of average hours worked continued to fall in April-June, reaching record lows both on the year and on the quarter.

The number of people claiming universal credit – a benefit for those on low pay as well as unemployed people – rose to 2.7 million in July, up by 117% since March.

Can we answer your questions on work and redundancy?

Here’s what others have been askingHow does redundancy work?What happens after furlough?Can I get universal credit?

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How are ordinary people coping?

Theatre technician Charlotte Baker, 29, is out of work as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

She started a new job at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon in September last year and was furloughed in March.

Charlotte Baker

In June, she was made redundant, even though she could have been kept on furlough.

Now management at the Fairfield Halls has said the venue will not reopen until April next year, forcing her to contemplate a possible career change.

“It’s definitely an uphill struggle and it’s proving harder than previous ones,” she told the BBC. “It’s hard to have a positive outlook.”

Charlotte has been looking into doing a carpentry course, but to obtain the necessary City and Guilds qualification would require her to spend £5,000 on training.

“It’s a mountain to climb. I wouldn’t mind climbing that mountain if it’s something that I’m passionate about, but I’m not sure,” she says.

“I’m hoping to make a decision by the end of August.”


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