The unemployment rate in the UK has risen to its highest level in almost five years, with young workers in the country bearing the brunt of the job losses, official figures are showing
The unemployment rate in the UK rose to 5.1% in the three months leading up to December of 2020, with the number of people listed on company payrolls down 726,000 when compared to the pre-pandemic rate.
Almost three-fifths of those who were jobless during this time were younger than 25 years old. There were, however, some early signs of renewed stabilisation within the jobs market.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said that there was a small increase in the numbers of UK employees being paid through payroll over the past couple of months, with 83,000 more people listed on the books in January compared to the previous month.
Average UK pay rose, too, by 4.7% including bonuses, although this was said to reportedly be a statistical quirk rather than a sign of any lasting wage growth in the country.
Statisticians said this was in part due the disproportionate fall in the number of young, typically lower-paid workers. Adjusting for this, the ONS has said that underlying wage growth was “likely to be under 3%”
This come after airlines have said that they have already seen a surge in holiday bookings following the PM’s announcement of the road map out of the nationwide lockdown. On Holiday bookings, the Prime Minister has said that a global travel taskforce would put forward a report on how to return to international travel on the 12th of April.
The ONS has said that 1.74 million people were unemployed in the time period between October to December, up 454,000 from the same period in 2019.
“Our survey shows that the unemployment rate has had the biggest annual rise since the financial crisis,” said Jonathan Athow, an ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics.
“However, the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for work has stabilised after rising sharply at the start of the pandemic, with many people who lost their jobs early on having now started looking for work.”
Today’s labour market figures show that pay was up by an average of nearly 5% compared with a year ago – a much bigger pay rise than has been typical for most of the past decade.
If you’re an employee you may not recognise that figure as anywhere near your own pay rise; a big part of it is because it is an average figure.
If you remove nearly 730,000 workers from employers’ payrolls, many of whom have been in low-paid occupations such as accommodation and food services – where pay rises have been modest or non-existent – then it flatters the average.
However, even allowing for those “compositional” effects, the Office for National Statistics estimates that there was still pay growth of 3% overall – far more than inflation at 0.7%.
And in some sectors it was better than that: according to the ONS, pay in health and social work rose by an average of 6.2% – some modest compensation, perhaps, for the risks those workers have been taking.
This comes after businesses have welcomed news that the non-essential retail sector could reopen as soon as the 12th of April. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, as he outlined his roadmap for England’s way out of lockdown.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is preparing for next week’s Budget, which is expected to set out the governent’s further plans to help the UK’s labour market.
“I know how incredibly tough the past year has been for everyone, and every job lost is a personal tragedy,” Mr Sunak said.
“At the Budget next week I will set out the next stage of our Plan for Jobs, and the support we’ll provide through the remainder of the pandemic and our recovery.”