LONDON ­— Almost 700,000 people have fallen off British payrolls since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, figures released Tuesday revealed.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed 695,000 workers lost their jobs from March, when the nationwide lockdown was implemented, to August, with younger people hit particularly hard by the crisis.

At least 76,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 have found themselves unemployed in the last year, a drop higher than that faced by any other age group.

Figures from the May-to-July period show an overall increase in unemployment, with the rate climbing to 4.1 percent. But the Bank of England predicts could rise as high as 7.5 percent by year end.

Researchers said there appeared to be some recovery from May to July, when the total number of hours worked rose as the country began to rebuild and reopen pubs and restaurants following months of stay-at-home restrictions.

“Some effects of the pandemic on the labour market were beginning to unwind in July as parts of the economy reopened. Fewer workers were away on furlough, and average hours rose,” ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said on Twitter. But he added the pandemic was still harming workers and businesses even though job vacancies looked a little more promising in August.

Britain was ravaged by the global health crisis and continues to have the highest death toll in Europe, with almost 42,000 lives lost to the virus. The government’s job retention effort is set to end next month, forcing some companies to reduce the number of employees further.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak continues to face widespread pressure to extend the furlough plan to protect British workers and the economy.

The Washington Post

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