Coronavirus delivers biggest blow to employment for ten years as Lancashire benefit claims soar.

UK Employment fell by the largest amount in over a decade between April and June as the coronavirus lockdown hit hard, the latest official figures show.

Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 11:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 11:06 am

Around 730,000 UK workers have been removed from the payrolls of British companies since March when the coronavirus lockdown began, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS said that employment rates have continued to decline in the last month as another 81,000 jobs fell off payrolls across the country, pushing the number of employed to just under 28.3 million.

The number of people in work decreased by 220,000 on the quarter.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak visiting a jobcentre

But many industry experts are predicting more job losses to come as the Government's furlough scheme is tapered off with businesses having to contribute more and due to end altogether in October.

Across the county, the number of people claiming work related benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit shot up, as jobs were put on ice during the lockdown period and struggled to recover as safety measures were eased.

The number of people claiming such support in July in the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency was 4,780, some 9.7 per cent of the population, a figure that was up 5.3 per cent on the same period last year.

Blackpool South saw 6,540 claimants, up 7 per cent on last year while Preston had 5,475 claimants up 4.1 per cent on the same month in 2019.

Jobs have again been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown

Fylde had 2,805 claimants, up 3.8 per cent on July 2019, Chorley had 3,245 claiming, up 2.9 per cent and Wigan had 4,860 claimants, up 3.4 per cent..

Lancaster and Fleetwood had 3,075 claimants, up 2.7 per cent, South Ribble had 2,485, up 2.4 per cent, the Ribble Valley had 2,325 claims, up 2.5 per cent and Wyre and Preston North had 2,050 claims, up 2.8 per cent

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: “The labour market continues recent trends, with a fall in employment and significantly reduced hours of work as many people are furloughed.

“Figures from our main survey show there has been a rise in people without a job and not looking for one, though wanting to work. In addition, there are still a large number of people who say they are working no hours and getting zero pay.

“The falls in employment are greatest among the youngest and oldest workers, along with those in lower-skilled jobs.

“Vacancies numbers began to recover in July, especially in small businesses and sectors such as hospitality, but demand for workers remains depressed.”

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: “Today’s figures show more of the impact the virus is having on both our economy and labour market, meaning many people will be understandably concerned about the future – which is why we’ve set out our Plan for Jobs, to protect, create and support jobs as we build back our economy.

“We’ve already protected more than 9.5 million jobs throughout this period with the furlough scheme, supported more than two million self-employed people and paid out billions in loans and grants to thousands of businesses."

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said of the latest figures: “Today’s labour market stats make it clear that our unprecedented support measures, including the furlough and self-employed support schemes, are working to safeguard millions of jobs and livelihoods that could otherwise have been lost.

“I’ve always been clear that we can’t protect every job, but through our Plan For Jobs we have a clear plan to protect, support and create jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope.”

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Labour has repeatedly warned the Government their one-size-fits-all approach will lead to job losses. These figures confirm what we feared – Britain is in the midst of a jobs crisis.

“It is extremely worrying that this increase in unemployment has hit older workers, the self-employed and part-time workers hardest."

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, says: “The latest labour market data show overall weakening. The pandemic’s impact on the labour market has been substantially limited by companies’ ability to furlough workers under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Latest data from the Treasury show that the job retention scheme has covered 9.4 million workers.

“The ONS indicated that the unemployment rate stayed at 3.9% while employment fell as a number of people had given up looking for work and are therefore no longer counted as unemployed. Indeed, the number of economically inactive people rose by 82,000 in the three months to June, taking the inactivity rate up to 20.4% from 20.2% in the three months to March.

“Annual earnings saw a further weakening in June and they look set to remain under pressure over the coming months. Many workers who were furloughed took only 80% of their normal pay from March. Looking ahead, many companies are looking to freeze or cut pay, and to reduce bonuses."