News | Published June 16 2020

ONS: Number of UK workers on payroll falls by over 600,000 between March and May

The Office for National Statistics has said that over 600,000 people were made redundant between March and May this year, coinciding with a record drop in the number of job vacancies over the same period.

The figures reflect six weeks of the UK coronavirus lockdown, which saw almost nine million UK employees furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme.

Over the period, there were an estimated 476,000 job vacancies in the UK, which is 365,000 down on the same period in 2019.

Over the three months to April, the UK’s unemployment rate remained at 3.9 per cent, with the government’s support measures likely to have been a significant factor.

However, the total number of weekly hours worked dipped by 94.2 million [nine per cent] compared to the same period in 2019.

The ONS deputy national economic statistician Jonathan Athow said: "The slowdown in the economy is now visibly hitting the labour market, especially in terms of hours worked.

"Early indicators for May show that the number of employees on payrolls were down over 600,000 compared with March."

Athow added that the number of benefit claimants for work-related allowances had increased but suggested that not all of the new claimants were unemployed.

With the government’s support schemes due to lapse in October, it is likely that the pandemic will continue to have an adverse effect on employment with further job losses in future.

The Institute of Directors’ leading economist Tej Parikh said: "The furlough scheme continues to hold off the bulk of job losses, but unemployment is likely to surge in the months ahead."

Elsewhere, Ruth Gregory of Capital Economics said: "Despite the apparent stability of the actual unemployment rate, the labour market data were still pretty awful. And some of this will surely start to filter through into the actual unemployment figures as the government's job furlough scheme is wound down from August."

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 16 2020

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