UK loses 819,000 paid jobs since start of pandemic

UK loses 819,000 paid jobs since start of pandemic

There were 819,000 fewer workers on UK company payrolls in November than at the start of the pandemic, official figures show.

Hospitality was the worst hit sector, accounting for a third of the job losses, followed by retail, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate has risen to 4.9%, or to 1.7 million people, in the three months to October.

And redundancies hit a record high over the period.

The figures show that firms laid off more staff in anticipation of the end of the furlough scheme, which was originally supposed to finish in October.

However, the wage support programme has since been extended until March.

The ONS’s director of economic statistics, Darren Morgan, said that the hospitality sector accounted for nearly a third of the 819,000 job losses since February.

“We can see the hospitality sector has really struggled during the pandemic,” he told the Today programme.

“It you look at the number of people losing their jobs, the number of people on furlough and the vacancies available for people looking for jobs in the hospitality sector, all that adds up to a very difficult time for that industry.”

The jobs numbers are again grim over the course of the pandemic with 819,000 fewer employees on payrolls since February, and a record rise in redundancies in the three months to October.

However without extension of the furlough scheme they would have been even more concerning. The official headline unemployment rate is up only a little at 4.9%. But for most of October it was above 5%.

These numbers reflect mainly the period before the second national lockdown. And for the first time they are broken down by industry. Well over half of the lost employees during the pandemic have been in hospitality and retail, 456,837 out of 819,000. Health and social care have seen an extra 74,342 jobs.

While some optimism has emerged from the prospect of a functioning vaccine, the next few months are likely to remain very challenging, with unemployment continuing to rise. Those rises continue to be contained by the furlough scheme.

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