Lockdown has claimed nearly 650,000 jobs since March

UK workers on company payrolls have fallen 649,000 during lockdown as the coronavirus crisis claimed another 74,000 jobs last month, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said early estimates showed the number of paid employees fell by 1.9% year on year in June to 28.4 million, and by 0.3% compared with the previous month.

It said the pace of job losses appeared to have slowed in June, with claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes falling by 28,100 between May and June to 2.6 million.

But the claimant count has more than doubled since March – soaring 112.2% or by 1.4 million – in a sign of the mounting jobs crisis.

The ONS said unemployment fell 17,000 between March and May to 1.35 million, with the rate unchanged at 3.9%.

Experts said this masked a fall in employment, down 126,000 in the quarter to 32.95 million, with the rate dropping to 76.4%.

With 9.4 million people on furlough classed as employed, the true impact is expected to only be shown after the current support scheme ends in October.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said: “As the pandemic took hold, the labour market weakened markedly, but that rate of decline slowed into June, though this is before recent reports of job losses.

“There are now almost two-thirds of a million fewer employees on the payroll than before the lockdown, according to the latest tax data.

“The Labour Force Survey is showing only a small fall in employment, but shows a large number of people who report working no hours and getting no pay.”

He added: “There are now far more out-of-work people who are not looking for a job than before the pandemic.”

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