Figures reveal that the unemployment rate in the UK for June to August 2020 stands at 4.5 per cent. 

According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK unemployment levels have risen to their highest levels since 2017.

The most recent figures show that the unemployment levels were 4.5 per cent between June to August 2020.

This shows a rise from previous figures in April to June 2020 which was 4.1 per cent, showing a 0.4 rise in unemployment  since this time. In comparison to this time last year, the unemployment rate has risen by 0.6 per cent, previously standing at 3.9 per cent.

Redundancies have also hit peak levels with 227,000 UK employees being made redundant between June to August 2020, its highest level since May to July 2009.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an effect on employment levels. Employment levels for June to August 2020 was 75.6 per cent, a 0.3 per cent decrease from the previous quarter and the same decrease from this time last year.

Hit particularly hard were those aged 16-24 as, over the last quarter, the number of young people in employment decreased by 220,000, reaching a record low of 3.54 million. However, there was an increase in employment for those aged 25-64 from the last quarter with a 92,000 rise.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said:

The pick-up in unemployment and spike in redundancies emphasises again that tackling rising unemployment needs a team effort from Government and businesses designed to help people transition to growing areas of the labour market. The increasing number of vacancies emphasises that jobs are being created, in line with what our Jobs Recovery Tracker has been saying. The situation is already very different to the period covered by the ONS – we’re counted 1.2 million job ads across the UK right now.

The data underpins the importance of getting the winter right economically. Making sure we support demand in the economy and people unable to work should be our priority.

This means supporting temporary workers affected by local lockdowns and looking at how to support all the businesses in the affected supply chains that stand to lose out.

Cutting employers National Insurance contributions could help boost hiring and keep people in work. It’s important we also focus on measures that will affect the economy in the long-term, securing a Brexit deal that guarantees smooth trading relations with the EU which is essential for our economic stability.

James Reed, Chairman of REED, a recruitment brand, stated:

The Government has recognised and sought to address this looming job crisis, with the launch of the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to promote part-time employment and the Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme (JETS) being the most recent examples.

The JSS’s offer to pay 67 per cent of workers’ wages at firms shut due to COVID-19, is a vital line of support to businesses as the UK grapples with the new three-tiered lockdown system and a winter of stop-start regional lockdowns. But the scheme will need to be improved before its launch in November if is to provide more flexibility and be more generous to those most in need.

The £238m JETS scheme will help jobseekers who’ve been out of work for at three months or more, with CV assistance, interview coaching, and, importantly, advice on how to reskill into growing sectors.

Reskilling will be vital to the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19, because, despite the doom and gloom in the news, new job opportunities are starting to emerge. Over 160,000 new jobs were added onto REED last month – a 28 per cent month-on-month increase – with roles significantly increasing in the accountancy, education, and health and medicine sectors. Reskilling will open the door to opportunities for jobseekers in growing sectors and prevent a more widespread unemployment crisis from gripping the country.


Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.