Coronavirus fallout: Joblessness in UK worsens, survey shows

But as the lockdown against COVID-19 eases, recruiters are starting to hire again, according to the survey.

    Demand in the United Kingdom's retail, catering and hotel sectors has tanked and the country's jobless rate has continued to rise in May [File: Neil Hall/Reuters]
    Demand in the United Kingdom's retail, catering and hotel sectors has tanked and the country's jobless rate has continued to rise in May [File: Neil Hall/Reuters]

    The United Kingdom's labour market remained in freefall during May as the coronavirus lockdown kept businesses closed, although the pace of decline eased slightly, a survey showed on Friday.

    The monthly index of demand for staff from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) industry body and accountants KPMG rose to 19.3 from April's record low of 9.3.

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    Despite the jump, it was a long way from the 50 dividing line between rising and falling demand and it marked the second-worst reading in the survey's 23-year history

    "Given the impact of the lockdown in early May, it's no surprise that these figures look bleak," REC chief executive Neil Carberry said.

    "But in the two weeks since this data was collected, lockdown rules have been eased and the feedback we get from recruiters every day suggests that the slight improvements that we can see in the placements and vacancies data have continued."

    The medical and nursing care sector was the only one to show an increase in demand for staff, the report showed.

    In a sign of the scale of the economic challenge, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak last month extended wage subsidies for furloughed workers until the end of October at a cost of billions of pounds to the public purse.

    Rishi warned last month that the UK is facing a significant recession after a report showed the economy shrank almost 6 percent in March.

    The sharp decline is only a small part of the damage caused by the coronavirus lockdown, which was in place for all of April and is set to endure in some form for months to come. The measures heaped misery on an already tepid economy, with the Bank of England foreseeing a staggering 25 percent contraction this quarter as part of the deepest slump in more than three centuries.

    SOURCE: News agencies