March 17, 2020

Unemployment in the UK is on the rise

Unemployment in the UK is on the rise

The number of unemployed people in the UK has risen to 1.34 million in the three months to January, compared to the same period last year, which is the first annual increase in unemployment since May to June 2012. To a big extent, the increase is due to 20,000 more men being out of work but the number of employed people also increased to 32.99 million in the same quarter, largely due to a record increase in full-time and female employment.

“[W]e also see a record low rate for people neither working nor looking for work. Meanwhile, vacancies have continued to rise after recent falls, with more now than at any time in the last six months,” David Freeman, Head of Labor Maket Statistics at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) commented.

Research also shows that job insecurity and unemployment both have causal detrimental effects on mental and physical health. IZA World of Labor author Francis Green believes that “[w]orkers’ health is not just a matter for employees and employers, but also for public policy.” In his article, he notes that: “Policy should also encourage forms of employee participation and social support in workplaces.”

In the UK, the coronavirus crisis has now infected more than 1,500 people, resulting in the government issuing social distancing advice. The travel and hospitality sectors in the country are predicted to be the sectors which will suffer the worst hit as the disease continues to impact workers and labor markets.

According to Daniel S. Hamermesh, Editor-in-Chief at IZA World of Labor, “[m]easures aimed at preventing the disease’s spread are more likely to cause economic damage than the disease itself.” In his opinion piece, he notes that: “We face a classic economic trade-off: Restrict commerce in the hope of limiting the disease, recognizing that this will cause damage, hurt the economy, and hurt workers; or not impose restrictions, recognizing that some people will die who might have survived had more restrictions been imposed.”

Read Francis Green’s article Health effects of job insecurity and Daniel S. Hamermesh’s opinion piece Coronavirus and the labor market.