Unemployment at the highest level in 3 years
The UK unemployment rate is at its highest level in over three years and the pandemic continues to hit jobs.
The unemployment rate grew to 4.5% in the three months to August, compared with 4.1% in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, redundancies rose to their highest level since 2009, the ONS said.
The statistics come as the government prepares to impose tough local lockdown rules that will force some businesses to close and lead to more job losses.
Young hit hardest
ONS statistics estimate 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies stood at 227,000.
The ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics, Jonathan Athow, said 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 told the BBC’s Today programme.
“[Of those out of work] about 300,000 are aged 16-24, so about 60% of the fall in employment… that’s really disproportionate.”
Mr Athow said the large number of redundancies had been focused on sectors such as hospitality, travel and recruitment.
The number claiming work-related benefits hit 2.7 million in September – an increase of 1.5 million since the beginning of the crisis in March.
Will things get worse?
It is expected that unemployment will continue to rise after the government’s furlough scheme is replaced with a less generous wage support package in November.
Also. from this week tougher local restrictions will force pubs, bars and other hospitality and leisure businesses in England to close in the most infectious areas, as has already happened in parts of Scotland.
The government has offered to pay two-thirds of workers’ wages if their employer is affected, but some say this falls short.
“The fallout from the Covid-19 recession is intensifying,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.
“What’s more, the prospect of the latest Covid-19 restrictions leading to the economic recovery stalling, if not going into reverse, means worse lies ahead.”
Analysis from Citibank suggests the unemployment rate could hit 8.5% in the first half of 2021 – a level not seen since the early 1990s.
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