UK unemployment increased in the three months to July, according to the latest official data published on Tuesday.
The headline unemployment rate for May to July remained at 4.1%, an increase from the 3.9% figure recorded in the previous three month period, which included the beginning of the UK’s lockdown that started in late March, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Figures showed that 32.98 million people aged 16 years and over were in employment between May and July, 202,000 more than a year earlier, but with a decline of 12,000 from the previous quarter. The yearly increase was caused by more women in employment, according to ONS.
Quarterly data revealed the situation of employed individuals according to gender: the number of male workers rose by 22,000, while the number of female employees dropped by 34,000.
“The small quarterly decrease in employment was the result of large decreases in employment for young and older workers (people aged 16 to 24 years and those aged 65 years and over), the self-employed and part-time workers being almost completely offset by increases in employment for workers aged 25 to 64 years and full-time employees,” the ONS said.
“This is a difficult time for many as the pandemic continues to have a profound impact on people’s jobs and livelihoods. That’s why protecting jobs and helping people back into work continues to be my number one priority,” said Rishi Sunak, the UK’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, in a statement.
Capital Economics’ Chief UK Economist Paul Dales said: “We still think that employment will fall more sharply and unemployment will increase more quickly as the furlough scheme continues to unwind and ceases at the end of October,” he said in a note.
Unemployment claims in UK increased in April as the coronavirus pandemic causes more job losses in the country.
The latest data showed that individuals claiming jobless benefits in the UK soared in April. The unemployment claims in UK rose by 856,500 to 2.097 million.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the increase reflects a monthly increase of 69.1%. Meanwhile, a Reuters poll of economists had presented a median forecast for an increase of 676,500 in the claimant count.
However, the ONS said that improvements to “Universal Credit” as part of the UK government’s response to COVID-19 suggested that more people are qualified for unemployment-related benefit support, even if they were still employed. Universal credit refers to a social security payment that covers six benefits.
“Consequently changes in the claimant count will not be due wholly to changes in the number of people who are unemployed. We are not able to identify to what extent people who are employed or unemployed have affected the numbers,” the ONS said.
The UK unemployment rate recorded a little higher at 3.9% in the January-March period. The rate rose by 0.1 percentage points from a year earlier and has been 0.1 percentage points higher than in the last quarter of 2019.
The UK rolled out its furlough scheme called “Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme” (CJRS) to keep businesses from letting go of their personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The government aids employers in covering 80% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The scheme appears to work and will take effect until the end of October.