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16 June, 2020 Open access

Office for National Statistics confirms that claimant count for universal credit and jobseeker’s allowance has more than doubled since March 2020

New labour market statistics show that number of people claiming benefits principally because of unemployment increased to 2.8 million in May 2020 compared to 1.2 million in March 2020

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that the claimant count for universal credit and jobseeker's allowance has more than doubled since March 2020.

In its most recent Labour Market Review: June 2020, published today, the ONS provides estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

For the period covering the first two months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the ONS highlights that early indicators suggest that by May 2020 the number of employees in the UK on payrolls was down by 612,000 (2.1 per cent) compared with March 2020, while the total number of weekly hours worked in the three months to April 2020 (959.9 million) was down a record 94.2 million (8.9 per cent) hours compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.

Alongside these early indications of the negative impacts of the pandemic on employment and the economy, the ONS also provides figures on the claimant count - those people claiming jobseeker's allowance or universal credit with 'searching for work' conditionality placed on them - including that -

To put this rapid increase in claimant numbers in context, the ONS reproduces figures showing movements of the claimant count since the economic crash of 2008 - see table below -

NB - the ONS refers to the figures as 'experimental statistics' because the DWP is still developing the universal credit claimant count estimates. However, the ONS says that these figures provide the best available estimates of the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in the UK.

For more information, see Labour market overview, UK: June 2020 from ons.gov.uk

Stop press (17 June 2020) - the Scottish and Northern Ireland Governments have brought together and published updated labour market statistics relating to the position in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively - that include claimant count figures for their regions.