As UK unemployment has risen to nearly one and a half million, a CEO has stated that for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008 “we are entering an employer-led market” due to the help of COVID-19.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), unemployment increased by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March. The number of people making claims for unemployment benefits also soared to 2.1 million in April from 1.2 million in March. In December 2019, UK unemployment was at its lowest level since January 1975 in the three months up to October 2019.
Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs, said:
While the ONS Labour Market figures don’t show the full impact of Covid-19, we know that there are more people looking for work than before the outbreak and we are entering employer-led market for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. These may be tough times for many workers, but we are seeing green shoots starting to appear, as the number of job adverts placed on Totaljobs has been increasing weekly. This is particularly the case in industries like social care, IT, engineering and manufacturing. Last week there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of jobs advertised on Totaljobs with the highest number of vacancies on site since March.
It’s clear that Covid-19 will have a long-term ripple effect, not only on the labour market, but also on our working lives, as the dramatically different working world in recent weeks has given people new perspectives. Nearly three quarters (70%) of UK workers have increased desire to change industry as a result of Covid-19 and our research indicates that people are placing higher priority on fulfilling jobs that also allow them to develop new skills, strike a better work-life balance, and have more job security.
According to the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), April saw the fastest increase in unemployment claims since the claimant count began in 1971. The last time there was a fast rise in monthly unemployment was 1947.
Tony Wilson, director of the IES, said:
These figures give us the first official confirmation of what we’ve known for some time, which is that unemployment is rising faster now than at any point in our lifetime.
Matt Weston, managing director, Robert Half UK explained that some sectors have seen an increase in growth over the last few months.
Mr Weston said:
Following the Bank of England’s prediction that unemployment will rise to 9 per cent in 2021, it is likely that the next few months will be a challenging period for many businesses as they attempt to shore up their operations and ensure greater resilience over the remainder of the year. However, the announcement that the government’s Job Retention Scheme will be extended to the end of October, with increasing flexibility from August, signals continued support for businesses and workers over the longer term.
Despite the challenging environment, a number of industries remain buoyant and have even experienced growth over the last few months, such as pharmaceuticals and IT services. Across manufacturing, distribution and logistics, investment management and the wider financial services sector, we have seen a rise in demand for IT directors and financial and management accountants. Notably, we have seen an increase in appetite for working capital management and collections, finance planning and analysis, and finance managers from businesses looking for temporary or interim support to help ready themselves for the rest of the year.