Employment falls by 813,000 since Covid-19 outbreak began

20 April 2021, 07:27 | Updated: 20 April 2021, 08:20

The number of UK workers on payrolls dropped by 56,000 last month and has fallen by 813,000 since March 2020
The number of UK workers on payrolls dropped by 56,000 last month and has fallen by 813,000 since March 2020. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The number of people employed in the UK has dropped for the first time in four months, but vacancies are on the rise as the country begins to reopen following the latest lockdown, newly released figures have shown.

The number of UK workers on payrolls dropped by 56,000 last month and has fallen by 813,000 since March 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But there were further signs that the jobs sector is stabilising, with the first quarterly fall in the unemployment rate since 2019 between December and February and statistics signalling a near-16% jump in vacancies in March.

The unemployment rate eased back further to 4.9% from 5% in the previous three months, the ONS said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Protecting jobs and the economy has been my main focus since this pandemic began - through the furlough scheme alone we have protected 11.2 million jobs.

"As we progress on our road map to recovery I will continue to put people at the heart of the Government's response through our Plan for Jobs - supporting and creating jobs across the country."

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: "The latest figures suggest that the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring.

"The number of people on payroll fell slightly in March after a few months of growth.

"There are, though, over 800,000 fewer employees than before the pandemic struck, and with around five million people employed but still on furlough, the labour market remains subdued.

"However, with the prospect of businesses reopening, there was a marked rise in job vacancies in March, especially in sectors such as hospitality."

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