19/05/2020

Covid-19 – Scottish unemployment levels rise to 113,000 

19/05/2020

Covid-19 – Scottish unemployment levels rise to 113,000 

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According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people currently claiming unemployment benefit in Scotland has increased to 113,000 and the rate of unemployment is currently at 4.1%.  

The study only covers the first quarter of 2020, so doesn’t yet show the full extent of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In her daily press briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said of the figures, “They undoubtedly further demonstrate the need to carefully get the economy moving again, as quickly as we are able to do that safely. 

Ms Sturgeon also revealed that an additional £33m will be made available to help people get back into work as the economy reopens, and that the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board will take rapid action to help people get the skills they need for the future.  

Most of this funding will go to employment support service Fair Start Scotland, which helps those who could be at a disadvantage in finding work, including those with caring responsibilities, single parents and disabled people.  

UK unemployment has skyrocketed 

The ONS study reported that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits across the UK has skyrocketed to over 2.1 million people for the month of April. This represents an increase of 856,500 – or 69%  in the first full month of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Data has also shown that the unemployment level in the UK has risen by 50,000 in the first quarter of 2020

It’s thought that unemployment levels could, in fact, be substantially higher. Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research Jagjit Chadha said, “We can reasonably expect unemployment to rise very quickly to something over 10% – something we haven’t seen since the early 1990s. 

Before the pandemic hit, UK employment levels were at an all-time high.  

Young people most likely to lose work 

The news accompanies reports that youngest people are most likely to face unemployment during lockdown.  

According to a study of 6,005 people aged 18-65 by think tank the Resolution Foundation, as many as one in three people aged 18 – 24 are now earning less than they did before the UK lockdown (compared to one in six prime-age adults) 

Included in this finding are the quarter of people in this age category who have been furloughed, many of whom will currently have a reduced income of 80% of their usual monthly pay. 

What’s more, 9% of young people in this category have lost their jobs entirely – the highest percentage of any age segment.  

It’s thought this could be in part due to the fact that they tend to work in those sectors that have been hardest hit by closures during lockdown, sectors like tourism, leisure, hospitality and retail.  

Youngest and oldest worst affected by pay decreases 

According to the Resolution Foundation study, there’s also some disparity in the age categories of those whose pay has taken a hit since the coronavirus outbreak, with the youngest and oldest workers worst affected.  

  • Of the 18 to 24yearold bracket, 35% of young workers have experienced a pay decrease since the coronavirus outbreak. 50% have seen no change, and only 13% have seen an increase.  
  • In the 60 to 64-yearold bracket, 30% of workers have seen a decrease, and only 9% an increase.  
  • For 35 to 49yearolds, 23% have seen a reduction in earnings and fewer still – just 5% – have seen an increase.  

When it comes to the coronavirus job retention scheme, the study found that the amount of pay received was roughly equal across all pay bands, and those who were in the 18 to 24yearold bracket were overall happiest about it, closely followed by those in the 35 to 44yearold bracket.  

Summarising its findings, the Resolution Foundation study warned, “As the crisis continues to unfold, comprehensive support across ages and targeted support for the very youngest workers will be essential to minimise the damage done, and especially to minimise long-term employment and pay scarring for the young.” 

It was also revealed by Think Tank the NIESR today that those employees in the private sector will be more adversely affected than those in the public sector, estimating that by June, pay packets could be reduced by as much as 4.5% annually, while public sector pay will remain relatively flat.  

Opportunities to find work plummet 

The number of available job opportunities has also dropped sharply, with vacancies falling by almost 25% to 637,000 in the first quarter of 2020. It’s the lowest drop in employment opportunities in the UK since 2001, and compared to 2019, vacancies are already down by 210,000.  

Figures shared by job site Indeed last month showed that vacancies could have falls by as much as 40% since March. The job portal also released information that revealed for the worst affected sectors like beauty, tourism and food services, 80% of job adverts had been withdrawn.  

According to Totaljobs CEO Jon Wilson, we’re now entering an employer-led market, “While the ONS labour market figures don’t show the full impact of Covid-19, we know that there are more people looking for work than before the outbreak and we are entering employer-led market for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. 

He also suggested that the pandemic has changed what employees value in a job, saying, “It’s clear that Covid-19 will have a long-term ripple effect, not only on the labour market, but also on our working lives, as the dramatically different working world in recent weeks has given people new perspectives. 

“Nearly three quarters (70%) of UK workers have increased desire to change industry as a result of Covid-19 and our research indicates that people are placing higher priority on fulfilling jobs that also allow them to develop new skills, strike a better work-life balance, and have more job security.” 

If you’ve been furloughed or lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic and have been left wondering what to do about mounting debt, know you’re not in this alone. Our dedicated debt specialists are here with free advice and support on what to do next. Just give us a call on 0808 253 3299 to speak to someone in confidence about your debt, today.  

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