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

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This briefing was last updated on 12 August 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.

In April-June 2020, employment levels fell by 220,000 compared to the previous quarter. The fall was driven by part-time employees and those who are self-employed. The number of full-time employees increased. Workers aged 65 or over were particularly impacted by the fall in employment.

The most prominent labour market flow between January-March 2020 and April-June 2020 has been from employment to economic inactivity. There hasn’t, yet, been an increase in the levels of unemployment.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits has increased by 1.4 million since March 2020 when the lockdown began.

9.6 million employee jobs have been furloughed through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Around 73% of the eligible employee jobs in the Accommodation and food services sector, 66% of the eligible employee jobs in the Arts, entertainment, recreation and other services sector, and 59% of the eligible employee jobs in the Construction sector have been furloughed.

Around 2.7 million claims have been made on the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

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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