The coronavirus (covid-19) lockdown has led to the largest quarterly fall in employment since May to July 2009. Figures from the National Statistics estimate that 32.92 million people were employed between April and June this year. The numbers indicate that 113,000 more people were employed than the previous year; however that’s 220,000 fewer people than the previous quarter.
Retail, one of the worst hit sectors, has witnessed the biggest rise in unemployment in August since February 2009. Employment in the sector fell by 45 per cent. This fall is likely to go up as high as high 51 per cent in September, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Many of the major high street retailers, including WHSmith, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams have already laid off thousands of workers.
The latest statistics show 730,000 job losses since the coronvirus lockdown. There’s been 81,000 cuts in the last month alone, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The retail sector’s losses recently hit 100,000.
The Centre for Retail Research has sent out a warning that job losses in the sector could reach as high as 235,704 this year. This comes as more than 20,600 stores close across the country.
The director of the centre, Prof Joshua Bamfield, is reported to have said: “There are going to be a lot more job losses full stop, and many of them will be in the retail sector.”
In a bid to stay afloat, companies are also reducing wages. From March to June, wages fell by 0.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. According to the ONS, it is the first negative growth in regular nominal earnings since 2001 when records began.
The government has been urged to take action. The treasury recently responded by confirming businesses were given government-backed loans of almost £52bn. 9.6 million employees’ pay is also supported through the government’s Job Retention Scheme.