LONDON — Britain’s employment level has fallen by 730,000 people since the pandemic began, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday.
From April to June, employment decreased by 220,000, its steepest drop in over a decade, with younger people and older workers age 65 and above among the hardest hit, along with manual laborers.
The most recent statistics show the total number of employed workers fell by another 114,000 people in July — even though lockdown restrictions are being lifted and the country is attempting to return to normality by reopening shops and restaurants.
An estimated 7.5 million people were out of work in June, many of whom were on the government’s covid-19 furlough plan, a measure introduced in March to cover 80 percent of the wages of employees out of work amid the global health crisis.
“The labor market continues recent trends, with a fall in employment and significantly reduced hours of work as many people are furloughed,” Deputy National Statistician Jonathan Athow said. He added that there is “great uncertainty” concerning the future of employment on British soil as the country attempts to rebuild its battered economy.
As of this month, employers are expected to contribute toward the costs of the furlough plan, which is due to end in October. Analysts say complete termination of the policy will only push unemployment figures higher in the months to come.
With more than 46,000 deaths from the virus, Britain is the hardest-hit country in Europe and has the fourth-highest death toll in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.