Almost 650,000 people left out of work in the UK following lockdown - but North East employment is up

Latest figures show almost 650,000 jobs have been lost in the UK during the coronavirus lockdown – but the picture isn’t so bleak in the North East.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that UK workers on company payrolls have fallen by 649,000 since lockdown.

In June, 74,000 jobs were lost despite coronavirus lockdown easing with the reopening of non-essential shops.

The ONS said early estimates showed the number of paid employees fell by 1.9% year-on-year in June to 28.4million, and by 0.3% compared with the previous month.

A pedestrian wearing a face mask or covering as a precautionary measure against spreading COVID-19, walks past a closed-down cafe (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

London has also replaced the North East as having the highest rate of unemployment in the UK with 5.1% of adults in the capital out of work or higher education for the three months ending May 2020.

The data suggests that the North East’s unemployment rate is actually on the decline.

The ONS estimating that the figures have decreased from 6.2% to around 5%, based on the latest estimate.

The North East also showed the largest increase in its employment rate over the year with an increase of 3.2% to 73.9%.

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It said the pace of job losses appeared to have slowed in June, with claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes falling by 28,100 between May and June to 2.6million.

But the claimant count has more than doubled since March - soaring 112.2% or by 1.4million - in a sign of the mounting jobs crisis.

The ONS said unemployment fell 17,000 between March and May to 1.35 million, with the rate unexpectedly unchanged at 3.9%.

Experts said this masked a sharp fall in employment, down 126,000 in the quarter to 32.95million, with the rate dropping to 76.4%.

This decline was the steepest since 2011 and was driven mostly by a record fall in the self-employed, according to the ONS.

With 9.4million people on furlough still classed as employed, the true impact is expected to only be shown after the current support scheme ends in October.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: "As the pandemic took hold, the labour market weakened markedly, but that rate of decline slowed into June, though this is before recent reports of job losses.

"There are now almost two-thirds of a million fewer employees on the payroll than before the lockdown, according to the latest tax data.

"The Labour Force Survey is showing only a small fall in employment, but shows a large number of people who report working no hours and getting no pay."

He added: "There are now far more out-of-work people who are not looking for a job than before the pandemic."

The figures show that vacancies fell 463,000 between March and May to a record low of 333,000 as companies froze hiring in the face of the pandemic.

The pace of job cut announcements has also showed no sign of slowing down in recent weeks, with some 75,000 job losses announced last month alone, according to recent analysis by the PA news agency.

This points to further grim jobless figures in the months to come.

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