ONS: Unemployment reaches four-year high

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown unemployment levels to reach a four-year high.

As redundancies hit record highs, the UK’s unemployment level has jumped to 4.8% in the three months to September – the highest level since 2016.

The ONS said:

“For July to September 2020, an estimated 1.62 million people were unemployed, up 318,000 on the year and up 243,000 on the quarter.

“The annual increase was the largest since December 2009 to February 2010 and the quarterly increase was the largest since March to May 2009. The quarterly increase was mainly driven by men (up 178,000) and there were increases across all age groups.”

In the same period, 314,000 people were made redundant.

“Redundancies increased in July to September 2020 by 195,000 on the year, and a record 181,000 on the quarter, to a record high of 314,000m,” said the ONS.

“The annual increase was the largest since February to April 2009.”

The sharpest fall was among part-time and self-employed workers. the ONS explained:

“Looking more closely at the quarterly decrease in employment, it can be seen that this is driven by decreases in the number of part-time workers (down 158,000 on the quarter to 8.11 million) and self-employed people (down 174,000 to 4.53 million, with a record 99,000 decrease for women).”

“The quarterly decrease was partly offset by an increase in full-time employees, up by 113,000 on the quarter to a record high of 21.17 million. The increase in full-time employees was driven by women (up a record 165,000 on the quarter to 8.72 million), while men decreased by 53,000 to 12.45 million, the first quarterly decrease since March to May 2019.”

Suren Thiru, the British Chambers of Commerce head of economics, said: “The rise in the unemployment rate and redundancies is further evidence that the damage being done to the UK jobs market by the coronavirus pandemic is intensifying.”

“The extension to the furlough scheme will safeguard a significant number of jobs in the near term. However, with firms facing another wave of severely diminished cashflow and revenue and with gaps in government support persisting, further substantial rises in unemployment remain likely in the coming months.”