UK employment at record high before COVID-19 lockdown

Covid-19 News | Employment & Skills | Latest News

UK employment levels were at a record high in the three months leading up to February 2020, before the coronavirus lockdown started to hit the economy.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that 76.6% of UK people aged 16 to 64 were in employment, up from 76.4% in the previous quarter.

The overall number of adults unemployment were an estimated 33.07 million people – 352,000 more than a year earlier.

Unemployment was estimated to be at 4% – up slightly on the last quarter. However, early estimates for March showed a slight drop in the number of paid employees compared with February.

Pay in February continued to grow faster than inflation (2.9%), but its rate of growth has slowed since the middle of last year.

David Freeman, ONS head of labour market statistics, said: “Our final data wholly from before the coronavirus restrictions were in place, showed the labour market was very robust in the three months to February.

“For the first time, we have brought forward information on the number of employees in work using PAYE data to cover a more recent period. These experimental statistics show a softening picture in March, but cover the month as a whole, including the period before the coronavirus restrictions were in place.”

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