Official figures indicate that the number of employees in the UK payroll fell more than 600,000 between March and May, according to the BBC, the number of people calling for work-related benefits jumped 23% in May reaches 2.8 million.
Early estimates reflect the effect of about six weeks of closings in the UK, where nearly nine million workers have been laid off, but economists say the full impact on employment will not be felt until wage subsidy plans expire in October.
“The slowdown in the economy is now clearly hitting the labor market, especially in terms of hours of work … early indications for May indicate that the number of employees in the payroll has decreased,” said Jonathan Atho, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
He added that the number of people claiming work benefits has risen again, although “not all of these people are necessarily unemployed.”
Overall, the UK unemployment rate stood at 3.9% in the three months to April, as the government’s massive wage subsidy plans prevented job losses.
In contrast, the Office for National Statistics said that the total number of weekly hours worked during the period decreased to 959.9 million – a decrease of 94.2 million, or 9%, from the previous year.
According to the report, the changes come after major parts of the economy are closed to anti-virus software.
However, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, warned of rising unemployment on the way – “It was quite clear in every other indicator (other than the main unemployment rate) that the job market weakened significantly.”
Tej Parekh, the chief economist at the Institute of Managers, agreed that “the leave program still impedes the bulk of the job losses, but unemployment is likely to rise in the coming months.“