There were 450,000 fewer people in work in the U.K. in April compared with March, according to April payroll figures from the British tax office — Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Labor market data published today by the British Office for National Statistics shows that unemployment was slow to rise when the coronavirus crisis started to get more serious in the country in March.
However, in April, hours worked by those in employment plummeted by 25 percent, while average pay declined. The number of available jobs halved. The number of welfare benefits claimants jumped to 850,000 in April, and the Treasury said last week that some 7.5 million people had been furloughed through the government scheme covering 80 percent of wages up to £2,500.
“In March employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economics at the ONS, pointing to an official unemployment rate of 3.9 percent (an estimated 1.35 million people) for the first three months of the year, in line with pre-crisis trends. The U.K. entered lockdown on March 23.
“Today’s figures highlight the speed and scale of Britain’s job crisis,” said Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank.
“We suspect unemployment will continue to rise in the coming months,” said analysts from Capital Eocnomics, a consultancy.