Jobless rate soars to nearly 13 per cent in parts of Lancashire

UK unemployment has jumped to its highest level for more than three years as the coronavirus crisis claimed jobs across the economy.

By David Nowell
Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 11:36 am
Unemployment is up - and there are fears that the worst is yet to come
Unemployment is up - and there are fears that the worst is yet to come

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.

This saw the rate of unemployment jump to 4.5 per cent from 4.1 per cent in the previous three months.

In Lancashire, the trend is reflected in benefits claimant counts of up to a massive 12.7 per cent.

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The ONS added that the number of UK workers on company payrolls fell by 673,000 between March and September, despite edging up by 20,000 last month.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “Since the start of the pandemic there has been a sharp increase in those out of work and job-hunting but more people telling us they are not actively looking for work.

“There has also been a stark rise in the number of people who have recently been made redundant.”

Experts warned that unemployment will continue to ramp up as the Government’s furlough programme comes to an end, with firms having to start making a 10 per cent contribution to the costs of staff on the scheme last month.

The scheme will come to an end on October 31.

Here is the local claimant count in September - those claiming benefits related to work:

Preston had 5,400, 8.3 per cent, up 3.9 per cent on last year.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys had 4,560 claimants, 9.3 per cent of the population and up 3.7 per cent on the same month last year.

Blackpool South had 6,220, 12.7 per cent of the population and up 3.7 per cent on the same month last year.

Chorley had 3,200, 5 per cent of the population, up 2.7 per cent on last year.

Fylde had 2,700, 5.5 per cent of the population, up 3.4 per cent on last year.

Lancaster and Fleetwood had 3,025, 5 per cent, up 2.5 per cent on last September.

Morecambe had 3,685, 7.1 per cent up 3.2 per cent on last year.

RIbble Valley had 2,300, 3.8 per cent, up 2.4 per cent on last year.

South Ribble had 2,415, 4 per cent up 2.2 per cent on last year.

Wyre and Preston North had 1,960 claimants, 3.8 per cent of its population and up 2.5 per cent on last year.

But there was a small dose of cheer as the data showed a sign of recovery in vacancies, which surged by a record 144,000 to 488,000 between July and September.

Despite this, vacancies still remain below pre-coronavirus levels and 40.5 per cent lower than a year earlier.

The ONS also said regular pay, excluding bonuses, grew by 0.8 per cent in the three months to August, although average total pay, including bonuses, was unchanged.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the Government’s Plan for Jobs would help protect employment and “ensure nobody is left without hope”.

“I’ve been honest with people from the start that we would unfortunately not be able to save every job,” he said.

“But these aren’t just statistics, they are people’s lives.

“That’s why trying to protect as many jobs as possible and helping those who lose their job back into employment is my absolute priority.”

But businesses and economists said they are braced for mounting job losses, in spite of the Chancellor’s follow-up worker support schemes.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The Job Support Scheme will do little to hold back the tide of redundancies.

“We continue to expect the headline rate of unemployment to shoot up over the coming months.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are on the precipice of an unemployment crisis.

“Ministers must act now to protect and create jobs."