The UK Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.1%, Its Highest in 5 Years

The economic downturn due to COVID-19 has impacted unemployment numbers all over the world with lockdowns, shortened working horses, layoff staff, and stay at home orders that force businesses to close. In the United Kingdom, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that for the 4th quarter of October to December 2020, the unemployment rate was 5.1%. This was an increase of 0.4% from the previous quarter, and 1.3% from the previous year. The unemployment rate at its highest since 2016 with over 1.7 million people jobless, according to another source. The forecast for 2021 doesn’t seem any brighter as economists are predicting that the unemployment rate will rise to 6.5% with over 2.2 million unemployed (King). The industries that faced most of the difficulties are entertainment, retail, and hospitality, which also employ a significant number of young workers. As a result, the 18 to 24 years age group has been impacted with the biggest job losses. However, all of the economic news is not grim as the ONS reported that over 83,000 more people were employed in January of 2021 than December of 2020, which is the second successive month with an increase. Furthermore, Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, forecasted a stabilization of the job market over the next year as infections are on the downturn, and some businesses have started to open again. 

As the mass vaccination program to inoculate the UK’s population began in December and over 23 million, cited from the different source, people have received at least one dose, the government officials have hinted at loosening the country’s 3rd nation-wide lockdown by the end of summer and fully opening up the economy. Millions of unemployed are hoping that hiring and employment numbers return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.

By: Yoong Kim