UK unemployment rate hits 5% as more than 800,000 jobs disappear during pandemic

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The UK unemployment rate rose to 5 per cent in November as redundancies hit a record high, official figures show.

The official jobless rate edged up from 4.9 per cent the previous months as England was placed under a national lockdown and restrictions were tightened in parts of Scotland.

Some 828,000 workers dropped off company pay rolls between February and December. However there were indications that the easing of restrictions led to a pick-up in the jobs market as the number of people in payrolled employment rose 52,000 between November and December.

Employers made a record number of people redundant between September and November – a period that was set to include the end of the furlough scheme until a last-minute extension by the chancellor which came too late for some workers who had already been laid off.

London saw the steepest decline in employment, followed by north-eastern Scotland, the Office for National Statistics said.

Unemployment in London is estimated to have hit 6.9 per cent in the three months to November, significantly above the national rate.

A large proportion of people are employed in sectors badly affected by the pandemic such as hospitality, tourism and leisure.

There was some positive news in the official data on wages with early estimates for December 2020 indicating that median monthly pay increased by 4.9 per cent, compared with the same month a year earlier. Northern Ireland saw the biggest rise of any UK nation or region. Median pay jumped 7.2 per cent over the 12 months.

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