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UK Employment Figures, October 2020: Job Losses Mounting as End of Furlough Nears

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Gradual recovery in vacancies won’t offset further wave of layoffs.

The pandemic’s human cost, in jobs lost and livelihoods impacted, is slowly being laid bare. The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has jumped to 2.7 million and two thirds of a million fewer people are working now compared to March.

Vacancies did see a bounce in the third quarter having fallen steeply during the spring lockdown. That corresponds with the picture we see on Indeed – one of a gradual recovery in hiring intentions from June’s nadir. Sectors like construction, cleaning, manufacturing and childcare have seen notable growth.

Nevertheless this remains a labour market shielded by an almighty, and temporary, fig leaf – the Government’s furlough scheme.

With furlough due to end in just over two weeks and doubts about the effectiveness of its successor scheme – and amid tightening restrictions across swathes of the country – thousands of struggling employers are currently having to make agonising decisions about the viability of some of their staff’s jobs. 

We’re already seeing this in the redundancies data. Redundancies in August rose 74,000 – a bigger one-month increase than at any time since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Watching the redundancy data for September and October will be crucial as we see the impact of the new announcements about the Job Support Scheme and tighter restrictions on the hospitality sector in particular.