UK jobless dips

16 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: Britain’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent in the three month to the end of April as the UK economy began to emerge from its lockdown, official data showed Tuesday.

Unemployment eased from a rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement, reports AFP.

The jobs markets is being helped also by the government’s furlough scheme paying the bulk of wages for millions of private-sector workers.

In May, “the number of employees on payroll grew strongly...., up by almost 200,000, although it is still over half a million down since the pandemic struck”, noted Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics.

Data showed more employers were seeking to hire, with strong growth in job offers in sectors such as hospitality as coronavirus lockdown measures began to be eased.

The UK reopened non-essential retail, including restaurants and bars, in April, allowing the wider British economy to recover further from pandemic fallout.

However on Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the full lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England owing to a surge in infections caused by the Delta variant.

The delay comes as a blow to Johnson’s plans to fully reopen the UK economy on June 21 after months of gradually easing restrictions since March.

The more transmissible Delta variant, first identified in India, is now responsible for 96 percent of UK cases, and positive tests have jumped 50 percent in the last week.

Economists meanwhile expect the unemployment rate to jump once the government ends its costly furlough scheme at the end of September.

In the meantime, the jobs outlook in the UK is improving at its fastest pace for 20 years as the hospitality sector struggles to find enough staff, recruitment firm ManpowerGroup said last week.