Surge in people back in work in June as lockdowns ease, with small fall in benefits claims in Lancashire

The UK has seen the biggest leap in the number of workers on payrolls since the start of the pandemic as vacancies also soared thanks to the economic bounce back.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 3:30 pm

The latest official figures showed a record 356,000 increase in payrolled workers between May and June – the seventh monthly rise in a row – while firms hired at a blistering pace after indoor hospitality reopened and ahead of the final lifting of restrictions on July 19.

The Office for National Statistics said the increase in payrolled workers was the biggest since the coronavirus crisis struck and since records began in 2014.

Pay was also shown to be booming and vacancies increased by 241,000 quarter-on-quarter to 862,000 between April and June.

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The number of people in work has shot up in June as more businesses re-open after pandemic restrictions

The jobless rate dropped again, to 4.8 per cent between March and May, against 5 per cent from December to February.

The ONS data showed that total unemployment fell 68,000 to 1.6 million between March and May, while employment rose 25,000 to 32.2 million.

The claimant count – another measure that includes people working with low incomes and hours, as well as people who are not working – fell by 114,800 month on month to 2.3 million in June.

Locally the claimant count showed a small fall. For the month of June in the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency there were 3,870 people claiming benefits such as Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance, down 1.6 per cent on the previous month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the figures showed the country was bouncing back

In Blackpool South there were 5,525 claimants, down 1.9 per cent on May, while in Preston there were 5,000 claiming, down 0.4 per cent.

In Fylde there were 2,085 claimants, down 1.3 per cent, in Wyre and Preston North there were 1,450, down 0.9 per cent and in Lancaster and Fleetwood there were 2,865, down 0.6 per cent.

In Chorley there were 2,565 claiming, down 1 per cent, in South Ribble there were 1,860 claiming, down 1 per cent and in the Ribble Valley there were 1,755 claiming down 0.9 per cent on May.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are bouncing back – the number of employees on payrolls is at its highest level since last April and the number of people on furlough halved in the three months to May.”

But the ONS said that, despite seven months of increases, the number of payrolled workers has fallen by 206,000 since the pandemic hit.

Experts are also forecasting unemployment to rise significantly once the furlough support scheme comes to an end in September, although this is set to be far less than initially feared.

The data showed some jobs cheer for hard-hit younger workers, with an increase of 101,000 payrolled employees aged under 25 last month.

This was driven by record hiring levels in the hospitality sector, with vacancies up 73,400 on the previous quarter, and soaring numbers of roles available in wholesale and retailing as these sectors have benefited from relaxing restrictions.

Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “As the economy gradually reopened, the unemployment rate fell in March to May.

“This was especially marked for younger people, who had been hardest hit by earlier lockdowns.”

The data also showed total wage growth including bonuses soared to 7.3 per cent in the three months to May, or 6.6 per cent excluding bonuses, with further rises expected.

This puts the Government on track for a potential mammoth bill for its triple lock state pension pledge, which guarantees that annual pension payouts will rise in line with inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher.

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