ONS labour market figures for February

ONS labour market figures for February

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released the labour market figures for February 2021.

Since February 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 726,000; however, the larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the latest two months recording small increases. New analysis by age band shows that the 18 to 24 years age group has seen the greatest decrease in payrolled employees since February 2020.

Data from our Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows the unemployment rate continued to increase, while the employment rate continued to fall. Although total hours worked continued to increase from the low levels in the previous quarter, this increase slowed in the latest quarter. The number of people temporarily away from work has fallen since its peak in April and May 2020, although it has increased slightly in November and December. The number of people away from work because of the pandemic and receiving no pay has also fallen since the start of the pandemic but risen slightly over the last two months.

The number of job vacancies in November 2020 to January 2021 was 26% lower than a year ago. This is an improvement on the position in summer 2020 when vacancies were down by nearly 60% year on year, but the rate of improvement has slowed in the past few months. Further restrictions and national lockdowns recently have had an impact on vacancies in some industries more than others, most notably the accommodation and food services industry.

Annual growth in average employee pay continued to strengthen; the growth is driven in part by compositional effects of a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs, and by increased bonuses, which had been postponed earlier in the year.

Read more here.

Commenting on the ONS labour market statistics for February 2021, published today, British Chambers of Commerce Head of Economics Suren Thiru said:  

“While the furlough scheme is limiting job losses, the rise in unemployment and decline in employment levels are further evidence that coronavirus continues to weaken the UK labour market.

“With firms facing a renewed cash crisis amid the current lockdown and the prospect of several more months of diminished demand and revenue before many can fully reopen, substantial job losses maybe inevitable if the support schemes wind down as planned.

“Although the government’s roadmap provides a way forward, the lack of clarity over the future path of fiscal support has left a damaging cliff edge for jobs and livelihoods.

“It is vital that the government support schemes, including furlough and business rates relief, are extended through the summer and wherever possible throughout 2021 to help protect jobs and power the recovery.”

"Substantial job losses maybe inevitable if the support schemes wind down as planned."

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