Unemployment rate in UK fell for second month to 4.9%
LONDON (UK) – Britain’s unemployment rate in the period December-to-February fell to 4.9%. This is for a second month in a row that this has repeated and the tight COVID lockdown is being considered as the reason.
Most economists had forecast that the unemployment rate would edge up to 5.1% from 5.0% in the three months to January.
“The latest figures suggest that the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months,” the Office for National Statistics said.
The number of employees on company payrolls fell by 56,000 between February and March, reversing a recent improvement, the ONS said, citing data from Britain’s tax office.
That pushed up the total number of jobs lost since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to 813,000, the ONS said.
Britain’s economy shrank by almost 10% in 2020 after it locked down later and for longer than most of its peers.
But it is in the process of lifting its third lockdown while other countries in Europe have recently tightened their restrictions.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak in March extended furlough support – which pays the wages of around one in five employees – until the end of September.
Without the scheme, Britain’s jobless rate would be far higher and it is likely to rise when it ends.
In April last year, the Office for Budget Responsibility said unemployment could hit 10%.
Sunak is hoping that by the time his furlough scheme expires, the economy will be largely free of COVID restrictions after the fast roll-out of coronavirus vaccinations.