More Brits are heading back to work, ONS data shows

10 September 2020, 11:32 | Updated: 10 September 2020, 14:15

More people have been returning to work in offices
More people have been returning to work in offices. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found more people are heading back to work.

For the period 10 to 23 August, 49.1 per cent of employees were working at their normal place of work, up from 42.7 per cent for the two weeks prior.

The data will be welcomed by the government, who at the end of August announced a major media campaign to encourage a return.

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On Monday, an LBC poll found half of those asked who live outside London said they expect to go back to work five days a week everyday, compared to 35 per cent of those in the capital.

Footfall on high streets and at shopping centres remains just below 75 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019, while retail parks are at 90 per cent.

Although this is a gradual levelling off of increases seen in footfall since the easing of lockdown, for a third consecutive month, between June and July, more firms reported increasing turnover than decreasing turnover.

The number of people on furlough also decreased by 2 points, but 10.5 per cent of the workforce continue to have their wages significantly underwritten by the government, raising concerns about the labour market when the scheme is closed next month.

The arts and entertainment industry has the largest percentage of workers still on furlough, with 38.7 per cent, down from 46 per cent for the previous reporting period.

It is unclear the extent to which this decrease has been driven by people being rehired or laid off, as the sector continues to be particularly affected by coronavirus restrictions.

Finding new jobs also looks set to continue to be difficult, with the ONS seeing a five point fall in the volume of online job adverts last week.

The total number of online job adverts has decreased from 55 per cent to 50 per cent of their 2019 average, with a decline across 26 out of 28 job categories.

But as people continue to get out and about more, traffic camera data analysed by the ONS between 31 August and 6 September showed the number of cars driving in London has returned to the average level seen immediately pre-lockdown, while the North East remained at around 95 per cent.