This briefing was last updated on 23 October 2020. This is a fast-moving crisis, 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 the 13 October, the labour market statistics for June-August 2020 were published.

These statistics showed the largest quarterly rise in redundancies since 2009, as well as an increase in unemployment levels. In contrast, there was also the first month-on-month increase in the number of payrolled employees since the start of the pandemic, and a large quarterly increase in the number of vacancies.

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

Employment levels for those aged 16-24 and 65+ have fallen by 378,000. In comparison, employment levels for those aged 25-64 have also fallen, but by much less at 37,000.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits increased by 1.5 million between March 2020 and September 2020.

9.6 million employee jobs had been furloughed through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) by midnight on the 18 October.

Throughout April and May, over 8 million jobs were on furlough, with a peak of 8.9 million jobs furloughed on the 8 May. 6.8 million jobs were on furlough at the end of June, 5.1 million were on furlough at the end of July, and 3.3 million were still on furlough on 31 August.

The second tranche of the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opened for applicants on the 17 August 2020. By midnight on the 18 October, 2,3 million claims had been made.

Some workers are disproportionally economically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Workers who are from a BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) background, women, young workers, low paid workers and disabled workers, have been most negatively economically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, 15% of workers in sector which have shut down because of the coronavirus are from a BAME ethnic background, compared to 12% of all workers, 57% are women, compared to a workforce average of 48%, and nearly 50% are under 35 years old. Low paid workers are more likely to work in shut down sectors and less likely to be able to work from home.


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