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Drop in UK vacancies, cause for concern

19 May 2020
Joanne Frew, Employment Partner at global legal business, DWF, comments on the latest ONS Labour market overview and employment figures for March 2020. She said:
"Whilst the UK employment rate in the three months to March 2020 was estimated at a joint record-high of 76.6, 0.6% points higher than a year earlier, the quarterly figures only cover the first week of lockdown. The statistics will almost certainly deteriorate as the true impact of COVID-19 takes effect. 

"Although the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was not announced until 20 March 2020, it will have helped avoid further job losses in the last 11 days in March. The total number of weekly hours worked in the three months to March 2020 was 1,040.6 million, 12.4 million hours less than the previous year. This is perhaps a greater reflection of the impact of lockdown, with the ONS reporting 25% fewer hours worked in the last week of March compared to other weeks in the same quarter. The UK unemployment rate for the three months to March 2020 has been estimated at 3.9%, 0.1% higher than a year earlier. The ONS reports that this is 50,000 more people unemployed than a year earlier. Although a reportable increase in unemployment, the figures do not yet show the true extent of COVID-19. 

"The drop in vacancies across the UK is of concern, with the ONS reporting 637,000 vacancies in the UK in February to April 2020, 170,000 fewer than the previous quarter. The reality will be that those who are unemployed will find it difficult to gain employment quickly in the stagnant job market. "