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11 August, 2020 Open access

TUC calls for government to extend job retention scheme as today’s labour market figures show 730,000 fewer employees in paid employment

General Secretary also warns that ‘the alarm bells couldn’t be ringing any louder’, urging Ministers to 'act now to protect and create jobs'.

Commenting on the latest employment figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today, that show that more than 700,000 fewer employees are in paid employment compared to the previous quarter, the TUC has called on the government to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in order to help save jobs.

Today’s labour market overview from the ONS includes early indicators for July 2020 suggesting that the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down by around 730,000 compared with pre-COVID-19 levels in March 2020, the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009. In addition, the claimant count - people eligible for the unemployment-related benefits (jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit under the 'searching for work' conditionality regime) - reached 2.7 million in July 2020, an increase of 116.8 per cent since March 2020.

NB - notable among the ONS’s other findings for April to June 2020 are that the total number of weekly hours worked was 849.3 million, down a record 203.3 million hours on the same period in the previous year, and down 191.3 million hours on the previous quarter; the number of people on zero-hour contracts has been increasing steadily and has increased by 156,000 (or 17.4 per cent) to a record high of 1.05 million over the last year; and redundancies increased by 30,000 on the year and 27,000 on the quarter to 134,000, the highest level since February to April 2013.

Commenting on the figures, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said today -

“The alarm bells couldn’t be ringing any louder. Ministers must act now to protect and create jobs.

That means extending the job retention scheme for businesses with a viable future who can’t operate because of virus restrictions. It means investing in the jobs we need for the future in green industries, social care and across the public sector. And it means ensuring a decent safety net is in place to help those who lose their jobs get back on their feet.’

For more information, see Ministers must extend job retention scheme to save jobs, says TUC.