This paper is up to date as of 29 May 2020. This paper sets out when official statistics which reflect the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak on the labour market will be released, and summarises timely data from a range of sources which provide an indication of the situation in the meantime.

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This briefing was last updated on 29 May 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 summarises data from a range of sources which provide an indication of the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak on the labour market.

On the 19 May the latest labour market statistics were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This briefing provides an overview of the data that was published. This includes the latest employment and unemployment figures, although as these were for the period January-March 2020 they do not yet reflect the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market.

The ONS also published the number of people claiming unemployment benefits. These figures include those who had their claim processed by the Department for Work and Pensions by the 9 April, over 2 weeks after the Government’s instruction to stay at home.

In April 2020, 2.1 million people claimed unemployment related benefits. This was an increase of over 850,000 claimants from March 2020.

Various other timely statistics and analysis give us an indication of how the labour market is affected by coronavirus.

By midnight on 24 May, 8.4 million jobs had been furloughed through the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The ONS found that in the period 4-17 May, 79% of businesses responding to the survey had applied for the CJRS, with 27% of the workforce in these businesses being furloughed.

Some sectors have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic; according to the IFS, the accommodation and food services sector, alongside the arts, entertainment and recreation sector have had the largest number of firms decreasing staff working hours. Around 15% of employees were working in a sector that has largely or entirely shut down during the lockdown.

Some workers are disproportionally economically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Low paid workers are more likely to work in shut down sectors and less likely to be able to work from home. According to the IFS, one third of employees in the bottom 10% of earners work in shut down sectors, and less than 10% of the bottom half of earners say they can work from home.

Workers on zero-hours contracts, temporary workers and the self-employed are also particularly impacted, as well as young workers, BAME workers, disabled workers, and women.

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