UK unemployment jumps after coronavirus hits labour market

Unemployment jumped in the three months to March as the labour market was struck by the coronavirus lockdown, new figures have revealed.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that unemployment increased by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the quarter.

It also announced that early estimates for April 2020 indicate that the number of paid employees fell by 1.6% compared to March, as firms began to feel a greater impact from the lockdown.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “While only covering the first weeks of restrictions, our figures show Covid-19 is having a major impact on the labour market.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the coronavirus job retention scheme in an effort to avoid widespread unemployment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“In March employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction.

“Through April, though, there were signs of falling employment as real-time tax data show the number of employees on companies’ payrolls fell noticeably, and vacancies were sharply down too, with hospitality again falling steepest.”

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