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UK unemployment rate hits two-year high

The UK’s unemployment rate increased to a two-year high of 4.1% in the three months to July, as businesses and industries felt the impact of the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

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Around 695,000 people have dropped off the payroll at UK firms since March

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, some 695,000 people have dropped off the payroll at UK companies since March, the month in which the Covid-19 lockdown came into effect.

Young people aged between 16 and 24 were the hardest hit during the three-month period, with 156,000 fewer people in the age group in employment in July. The unemployment rate for this age group now stands at 13.4%.  

Many businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors during lockdown, while some that remained open saw a big drop in demand for work, including some active in the sign industry.

Though many businesses have since reopened, some have been forced to let staff go to help balance the books, while some companies have not yet been able to resume operations due to financial constraints.

This is despite the government having implemented a number of schemes to help financially support businesses during the ongoing crisis.

These include the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which, introduced at the end of March, has seen the government contribute to the wages of workers on furlough.

Upon launching the scheme, the government said the idea was that businesses would be able to keep staff on the payroll, without having to content with the financial constraints while they were away on furlough.

However, there are fears that when the scheme ends on October 31st, this could lead to huge job losses across the country, with some businesses unable to cope with taking all furloughed staff back on.

Despite calls for it to be renewed, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ruled out extending the scheme past the end of next month.

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