UK unemployment falls as nearly 100,000 find jobs between March and April

18 May 2021, 07:26 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 08:38

Unemployment fell in the UK in the month to April but there are still hundreds of thousands out of work
Unemployment fell in the UK in the month to April but there are still hundreds of thousands out of work. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Britain's unemployment rate has fallen after 97,000 people were added to payrolls between March and April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

However, the number of people in work has dropped by 772,000 since the coronavirus outbreak struck.

The latest figures mean the number of UK workers on payrolls surged for the fifth month.

It comes as lockdown restrictions were eased on Monday, allowing indoor dining and other hospitality firms to reopen.

Job vacancies also continued to increase as the economy jumped back into life, the ONS said.

The latest figures show that the overall rate of unemployment fell once more to 4.8 per cent betwee January and March - the largest quarterly decrease since between September and November 2015.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Protecting and creating jobs continues to be my top priority.

"While sadly not every job can be saved, nearly 2 million fewer people are now expected to be out of work than initially expected - showing our Plan for Jobs is working.

"Thousands of young people are finding work through our Kickstart scheme, and the extension of the furlough and self-employed support schemes beyond the end of the road map means people's jobs will continue to be protected while the economy gradually reopens."

Employment minister Mims Davies said: "While there is more to do to make sure we support jobseekers over the coming months, these figures highlight the resilience of our jobs market and ability for employers to adapt - and through our Plan for Jobs we're continuing to create new opportunities for people right across the country."

Read more: UK economy shrank 2.9% in January after lockdown measures hit economy

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Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: "The number of employees on payroll rose strongly in April as the economy began to reopen, continuing the improvement from its November trough.

"There remains, however, three-quarters of a million people fewer on the payroll compared with the pre-pandemic peak.

"With many businesses reopening, the recent recovery in job vacancies continued into April, especially in sectors such as hospitality and entertainment.

"The renewed lockdown at the beginning of 2021 saw a sharp rise in the number of previously unemployed people no longer looking for work, helping the unemployment rate to fall on the quarter.

"This mirrored what happened during the first lockdown."

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said: "The decline in the unemployment rate and the rise in payroll employment is further confirmation that the UK jobs market is now more resilient to the ongoing restrictions."

He added: "UK unemployment remains on track to peak at a much lower level than in recent recessions.

"However, the squeeze on business cash flow from any marked delay to the planned full reopening of the economy may trigger renewed job losses, particularly when furlough becomes less generous over the summer."