Unemployment rises to 4.5%

New statistics show unemployment is rising and the highest number of redundancies since the last recession.

Cut out wooden people in a rowd, one is blue


The unemployment rate rose to 4.5% between June and August 2020 and the employment rate fell to 75.6%, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Its figures show redundancies increased by 113,000 on the year and 114,000 on the quarter. The annual increase was the largest since April to June 2009, with the number of redundancies reaching its highest level since May to July 2009.

Vacancies rose steeply in July to September after a huge drop following lockdown. However, they remain below the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels and are 332,000 (40.5%) less than a year ago.

Male employment was down by 1.1% on the year and 0.6% on the quarter. Female employment was up 0.4 percentage points up on the year and 0.1 percentage points down on the quarter.

The number of self-employed people in the UK fell by 240,000 compared to the same period last year.

Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: We see today that the number of self-employed has fallen to 4.56 million, wiping out the growth of the last five years. This shows the devastating impact of the gaps in government support for the self-employed during the first wave of the pandemic.”

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) among employees for the three months June to August was unchanged from a year ago, while regular pay (excluding bonuses) growth stood at 0.8%.

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute of Employment Studies, said: “Redundancies are growing at their fastest ever rate, doubling in the last three months alone.  This morning’s figures confirm that redundancies will peak higher in this recession than they did in the last crisis, and we’re still forecasting that there’ll be at least 600,000 lay-offs by the end of year.  So unfortunately the worst may well still be ahead of us.  Revisions to earlier estimates also show that the official measure of employment has fallen by nearly half a million since the pandemic began, which is the fastest fall in employment since 2009.  This is now starting to feed through into higher unemployment, which again is going to continue to rise through the autumn.

“There are some signs of improvement however in today’s data, with the most recent flash estimate for payroll employees showing that employment started to level off through September. While this is positive, with the coronavirus infections now rising strongly again it feels unlikely that we’ll start to see much growth in employment and hiring in the coming months.”

James Quigley, Occupational Health Expert and Medical Director at occupational health company Healthwork, spoke about his concerns about the spectre of mass unemployment and the long-term health implication for individuals and society at a time when support and resources for long-term health issues is low due to Covid.

He said: “Unemployment is a major risk factors for ill health. The path leading from loss of employment to diminished wellbeing is well recognised, so everything that can be done to help individuals stay physically and mentally well is vital. Those experiencing long-term unemployment have an at least twofold risk of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety disorders, compared to employed persons. Their mortality is 1.6-fold higher, and with diminished healthcare services due to Covid-19 – the fear is that this could be even greater. Evidence indicates that the long-term unemployed have a moderately elevated prevalence of alcoholism, too, as well as higher risks of heart attack and stroke.

“The support employers can offer to promote a positive outlook for those being made redundant – such as access to training to provide employees with transferable skills – can mean the difference between short-term and long-term unemployment for individuals.”

He highlighted the importance of the following steps that people who lose their jobs can take:

    1. Take control of the situation. Avoid burying your head in the sand and make sure you take advantage of everything your employer has to offer.
    2. Take time to reflect and be kind to yourself. Being made redundant is a big change and it is normal to feel a mixture of emotions which can be difficult to make sense of.
    3. Take immediate action. If your aim is to get back into employment it is essential to take action early whilst motivated to do so.
    4. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. You are not alone. The more people who know you are seeking employment, the more chance you have of hearing about opportunities.
    5. Stay active. If you haven’t found employment by the time you leave employment, make sure you keep yourself physically active through exercise and other activity.
    6. Stick to a daily routine. The early bird gets the worm, so don’t treat redundancy like a holiday. Get up early and follow a daily routine eating nutritional meals, and get plenty of fresh air during the light of day.
    7. Consider volunteering if you can’t find work. Even in this new Covid world, there are plenty of options for voluntary work in all sorts of sectors and maintaining work-like activity will help prevent your physical and mental health deteriorating. Keeping your brain active, meeting new people, and having a sense of purpose or achievement is really important in helping you to remain work-ready.
    8. Take strength in accessing support. If you are struggling with your mental health remember that there is always support available, and there is no shame in asking for help.

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