Britain’s jobless rate rose again in the three months to October and the number of redundancies hit a record high as companies prepared for the end of the government’s coronavirus job subsidies programme which was eventually extended into 2021.
Official data showed the unemployment rate reached 4.9%, up from 4.8% in the three months to September.
However, the increase was less sharp than expected by most economists. A Reuters poll had pointed to a jump in the rate to 5.1%.
The number of redundancies reached a record high of 370,000 in the August-to-October period although there was a slight decrease in just the month of October, the Office for National Statistics said.
“Overall we have seen a continuation of recent trends, with a further weakening in the labour market,” the ONS’ director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said.
For much of the period covered by Tuesday’s data, finance minister Rishi Sunak rejected calls to extend his broad job retention scheme beyond a scheduled Oct. 31 expiry, raising fears of an acceleration in job losses.
But, as a second wave coronavirus cases hit the country, Sunak was forced to announce a last-minute, one-month extension of the scheme, which he quickly extended again until the end of March 2021.
Tax office data also released on Tuesday showed the number of staff on company payrolls slipped by a monthly 28,000 in November, taking the total number of job losses since March, according to the payrolls measure, to 819,000.