United Kingdom unemployment rate hits highest level in three years

UK jobless rate hits 4.5% as work protection plan nears end

The unemployment rate in the North East has increased to 6.6% in the three months from June to August.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said unemployment rose by 138,000 quarter on quarter to 1.52 million in the three months to August - the highest since the start of 2017.

However, separate tax office data showed the number of staff on company payrolls rose by a monthly 20,000 in September, slightly reducing the total number of job losses by that measure since March to 673,000.

The minister said the Scottish government had launched a National Transition Training Fund to help people aged 25 or over who had lost their job or who were at risk of redundancy as a result of the virus. This has dealt a further huge blow to the hospitality sector and comes as the United Kingdom government's virus furlough scheme paying the bulk of wages for millions of workers is replaced from November by a watered-down scheme.

The figures come ahead of the end of the government's furlough scheme on 31 October, which has been subsidising pay for temporarily laid-off workers during the pandemic.

There was, however, a small amount of cheer as the data showed recovery in vacancies, which surged by a record 144,000 to 488,000 between July and September.

But businesses and economists are bracing themselves for mounting job losses, in spite of the follow-up support initiatives.

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: "The labour market figures released today make for worrying reading, with employment falling and unemployment spiking in the North East".

Statistics suggest men have been hit hardest - the unemployment rate reaching 4.9 percent between June and August 2020, a rise of 0.7 percent from the previous quarter. The North East now finds itself with the highest unemployment rate, the lowest employment rate and the lowest average hours worked of all British regions.

"I think there's a good chance I'm afraid that we'll get up to levels of unemployment next year not seen since the early 1990s - and that's despite the £200bn worth of support the government has poured into the economy over the last six months".

"The Job Support Scheme may need to be beefed up if the Government wants to avert further rises in unemployment".

"Our newly adjusted survey figures show that in the latest period nearly half a million fewer people were in work than just before the pandemic, while nearly 200,000 others said they were employed but were now not working nor earning any money".

"But these aren't just statistics, they are people's lives".

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