Employment

Under 25s account for two thirds of jobs lost during pandemic

More than half of the Covid unemployment figures came from hospitality, after lockdown restrictions hammered the industry, and nearly a third was in London.

Blake

Some hospitality venues have seen increases of over 600%, Labour MP Olivia Blake said. Image: Tim Mossholder/Pexels

Workers under 25 are bearing the brunt of Covid-19 unemployment, accounting for more than 60 per cent of jobs lost during the crisis.

There are nearly 700,000 fewer employees on payrolls compared to February last year, Office for National Statistics figures showed. More than half of the decrease was in hospitality, after lockdown restrictions hammered the industry, and nearly a third was in London.

However unemployment has fallen slightly for the first time during the pandemic, from 5.1 per cent to five per cent, an increase of 68,000 workers between January and February.

This figure represents 1.7 million people who are still out of work, and does not include those placed on furlough by their employers. Around 11.2 million people have been supported by the Government’s job retention scheme since March 2020.

The furlough scheme and lockdown restrictions have the jobs market “largely on ice” according to Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation.

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Employment fell at the end of 2020 as the Autumn redundancies spike worked its way through, but the furlough scheme has protected workers from the renewed effects of lockdown in early 2021,” he added.

“Young people continue to bear the brunt of the crisis, with payrolled employment among those aged 24 and under down 11 per cent on pre-crisis levels, compared to a 1 per cent fall across all other age groups.

“On the anniversary of the first lockdown, the jobs market is largely on ice as we await a proper recovery to get underway and the phasing out of the Job Retention Scheme to reveal the extent of lasting labour market damage.”

Unemployment is still 1.1 per cent higher than this time last year, with 500,000 fewer people born outside the UK currently in work across the country.

Mims Davies, employment minister, said: “Today’s figures highlight the challenges facing us on our road to recovery, but there is reason for optimism with more workers on payrolls and over half a million vacancies out there.”

While extending furlough will limit job losses, the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on businesses means unemployment is “likely to remain on an upward trajectory until well beyond a full reopening of the economy”, according to Surin Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce.

Are you a young person who lost their job during the Covid-19 crisis? We want to hear your story. Get in touch with rora@bigissue.com.

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