This briefing was last updated on 26 November 2020. 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 10 November, the labour market statistics for July-September 2020 were published.

These statistics showed a sharp increase in unemployment from quarter to quarter, and the level redundancies were at their highest since records began in 1995. The level of vacancies and working hours continued to recover, although remained below the levels seen prior to the start of the pandemic.

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, employment levels for those aged 16-24 and 65+ have fallen by 357,000, or 7%. In comparison, employment levels for those aged 25-64 have also fallen, but by much less at 141,000, or 0.5%.

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

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

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. This fell to 2.4 million on the 30 September.

Data on the number of jobs furloughed by parliamentary constituency can be found in the excel sheet attached to this briefing.

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 15 November, 2.4 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.


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