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This briefing was last updated on 25 March 2021. This is a fast-moving situation, so please be aware that information may have changed since the date of publication. The Library intends to update this briefing.

This paper tracks the evolving impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the labour market.

On 23 March, the labour market statistics for November 2020-January 2021 were published.

These statistics showed a further fall in employment, with the employment rate at its joint lowest rate since 2017, and particularly large falls in employment among young and old people. However, there were other signs that the pandemic’s impact on the labour market may be beginning to plateau, with continued increases in the level of vacancies and working hours. Redundancies continued to decrease since their peak in September-November 2020. A big increase in unemployment continues to be forecast for when the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme ends later this year.

To date, the pandemic has had more of an impact on the labour market status of particular age groups.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, employment levels for those aged 16-24 and 65+ have fallen by 318,000, or 8%. In comparison, employment levels for those aged 25-64 have also fallen, but by less at 198,000, or 0.7%.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits increased by 1.4 million between March 2020 and February 2021.

11.4 million employee jobs had been furloughed through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) by midnight on the 15 March 2021.

The third tranche of the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opened for applicants on the 30 November 2020. By midnight on the 31 January 2021, 2.2 million claims had been made.

Some workers are disproportionally economically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Workers who are from an ethnic minority group, women, young workers, low paid workers and disabled workers, have been most negatively economically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.


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