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UK Employment Figures, December 2020: Unemployment Hits 5%

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Furlough may need to be extended again amid cautious reopening.

Overall the latest ONS statistics were a little less bad than expected, though they cover the period before the third national lockdown. The unemployment rate hitting a four-year high of 5% and high redundancies will grab headlines, but weekly data suggests plateauing in November and December. 

Of course, the labour market continues to be heavily cushioned by the furlough scheme. This is due to finish at the end of April, but calls are growing for it to be extended into the summer to cover the vaccine roll-out into younger age groups. 

The return to national lockdown at the start of 2021 has applied the brakes to the economy once more. With the country facing several more months under tight restrictions, attention will turn to the Chancellor ahead of his spring Budget for further support. 

As ever, real-time data will be invaluable in monitoring labour market conditions. We’ll shortly be relaunching our job postings tracker with updated methodology and providing regular updates on our blog.