UK jobs market ‘remains subdued’

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The UK unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to February, according to the latest official figures.

The fall – down from 5% previously – came despite most of the UK being under strict lockdown rules for at least some of the period.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said the jobs market was “broadly stable” but “remains subdued”.

It added that five million people were employed but still on furlough.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “The latest figures suggest that the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring. The number of people on payroll fell slightly in March after a few months of growth.

“There are, though, over 800,000 fewer employees than before the pandemic struck, and with around five million people employed but still on furlough, the labour market remains subdued.

“However, with the prospect of businesses reopening, there was a marked rise in job vacancies in March, especially in sectors such as hospitality.”

According to the ONS, some 1.67 million people were unemployed between December and February. That is down 50,000 on the previous quarter but still 311,000 higher than a year ago.

It said young people continued to bear the brunt of the crisis, amid large-scale job losses in sectors such as hospitality and retail.

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