Around 695,000 UK jobs lost in first five months of pandemic

Daniel Fowler
September 17, 2020

The 104,000 rise in the number of people unemployed during the three-month period to July took the total to 1.4 million, and raised the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points to 4.1% - the biggest increase since the pandemic began.

The quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest the number of people in employment in Wales fell by 5,000 over the quarter.

A single-month estimate for the unemployment rate - which is more timely but less representative than the three-month data - jumped to 4.4% in July and an experimental weekly estimate hit 4.8% in the last week of the month.

"These figures only partially show how the lockdown measures needed to supress coronavirus (COVID-19) have affected our economy and labour market - they still do not reflect the full impact on employment as the Job Retention Scheme will have offered some relief to many employers and employees".

The claimant count reached 2.7 million in August 2020, an increase of 120.8% since March 2020. It is 6.5 per cent of the working population.

Shropshire had a rise of 75 claimants to 9,155 (4.8 per cent) with Telford and Wrekin up by 205 to 7,315 (6.5 per cent).

"Fewer workers were away on furlough and average hours rose.

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The number of job vacancies continued to recover into August, too", said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at ONS.

Speaking with Reuters, Samuel Tombs, an economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, claimed that speculation shows that the unemployment rate is set to continue to rise during September and October as the furlough scheme starts to come to an end, leaving employers with more wages to pay.

"Nonetheless, with the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work".

"However, the decline in employees on payrolls and the rise in the claimant count in August as the furlough scheme began to taper is a clear warning that the full impact of coronavirus on the United Kingdom labour market is yet to come".

However, a fall in the number of people in employment was less severe than expected at 12,000, compared with a median forecast for a fall of 125,000 in the Reuters poll.

"That means building on the furlough scheme by setting up a new job retention and upskilling deal, to keep people employed at firms that have a viable future", she said.

The country has lost more than half a million jobs.

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