Around 730,000 UK workers have been removed from the payrolls of British companies since March when the coronavirus lockdown began, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS said that employment rates have continued to decline in the last month as another 81,000 jobs fell off payrolls across the country, pushing the number of employed to just under 28.3 million.
Employers are increasingly making employees bear the risk that there isn’t enough work for them to do, with the number of zero-hours contracts rising above one million for the first time.
However, the official unemployment rate is not rising, at 3.9%. To be counted among the unemployed, workers need to be actively looking for a new job, which many have decided not to do yet, the ONS said.
However, this does not mean that the people in question do not want a job, said Jonathan Athow, the ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics.
Employment in the UK fell by the largest amount in over a decade between April and June, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has shown, with employment decreasing by 220,000 on the quarter.
The youngest workers, oldest workers and those in manual occupations were the worst hit during the pandemic.
Jonathan Athow, the ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics said: “Figures from our main survey show there has been a rise in people without a job and not looking for one, though wanting to work.”
“In addition, there are still a large number of people who say they are working no hours and getting zero pay.”
Between May and June employment dropped by the largest amount in a quarter since 2009.
The over-65s, the self-employed and part-time workers were especially badly hit.
Meanwhile, the number of hours worked by British employees has dropped to record lows.
The ONS said that around 7.5 million people were estimated to be temporarily away from work in June this year, most of them on the Government’s furlough scheme.
Around three million of these had been away for three months or more.
John Phillips, Acting General Secretary, GMB said: “Today’s jobs figures highlight the scale of the challenge ahead. This is the tip of the iceberg.
“There is danger coming as Ministers’ October furlough cliff edge fast approaches.
“Our country cannot suffer another decade of weak growth, cuts to services and squeezes on the poorest.
“This challenge must be met square on with bold action and targeted support from Government to protect jobs, secure livelihoods and save industries.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute, said: “There are now 730,000 fewer people in payroll employment than at the start of the crisis, and 3.4 million people who are out of work and who want a job. While the number of vacancies has re-bounded slightly, there remain fewer opportunities than at any point seen in the last recession.
“There are also signs of worse to come. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has helped prevent millions of job losses. But with the scheme coming to an end in October, we risk seeing a second wave of unemployment, with perhaps more than one million furloughed workers unable to return to their jobs.
“The Government should look again at extending support for jobs in hard-hit sectors, and it must ramp-up employment and training support for those who may lose their jobs.”