The number of people holding jobs in the UK has started decreasing. The Office for National Statistics said that 856,500 people signed up for universal credit and jobseeker’s allowance benefits in April, driving up the overall UK claimant count by 69% in a single month. Furthermore, people claiming unemployment benefits increased since records began in April to reach almost 2.1 million because of the Coronavirus. However, the unemployment rate in Britain has not changed, staying the same for the last couple of months at 3.9%.
There are many reasons why this is the case, with the most significant ones being that a lot of the people who are out of work are not looking to join the workforce any time soon. Since the virus has not completely plateaued, people are waiting for there to be some positive news about the virus before leaving their houses. While most of the people work from home or continue staying indoors, others are fine not picking up a job shortly.
Furthermore, a majority of work in the UK, like many parts of the world, was in person, requiring social interaction which is now on the backburner in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Finally, the unemployment rate in the country would have been a lot worse if the UK Government didn’t enter with their emergency wage subsidy scheme to save the day. They protected about 8 million jobs at 1 million companies in the opening weeks of the programme, where they paid 80% of workers wages up to £2,500 per month. These changes allowed the company to pay a smaller amount so they could mitigate the storm.
Is there any upside to the employment issue in the UK?
In the UK, new online job postings for middle-skill occupations contracted twice as much between February and April 2020. They saw the same for low-skill work which was 40% more than for high-skill occupations. High-end and white-collar occupations might face issues, but the middle range of work is now seeing some improvement.
Additionally, smaller companies are doing quite well when it comes to keeping up with the Government rules of social distancing and working from home. They were also able to come up with these rules and incorporate these changes from the get-go, which a lot of the larger companies are struggling to keep up.
A common practice now is hiring people without always getting the opportunity to meet them. Many employers are handling their interviews through video call before beginning the work, which is also remote or from home. These new recruitments imply that the employer has to work on background checks and conduct an enhanced DBS check for all of the people that they are hiring. If they do not need this information in detail and are just looking to handle a basic DBS check , they can do that too.
Are there any challenges to the employment issue in the UK?
With everything that is happening, picking themselves up and dusting themselves off might not be as easy as they make it seem. Many companies will still be in the middle of a cash flow crisis and struggle with any increased costs. Furthermore, it might be quite challenging for the Government who will face a task in winding down the scheme without causing too much pain.