UK sees workers on payroll rise above pre-pandemic level


London: Official figures show that the number of workers on payroll in the UK has risen above the level that existed before the coronavirus pandemic struck more than a year and a half ago.

The Office for National Statistics also revealed Tuesday that job vacancies remained above a million for the second month running, clear evidence that the British economy is experiencing worker shortages in an array of sectors, particularly hospitality, as a result of the pandemic and Britain’s departure from the European Union.

For now, the recovery seen across the U.K. since the lifting of most coronavirus restrictions is benefiting the jobs market, with the number of workers on payroll up by 207,000 between August and September to a record 29.2 million. That’s 122,000 higher than the level in February 2020, the last month of data before the impact of the pandemic started to be felt.

The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels, said Darren Morgan, the agency’s director of economic statistics.

Vacancies also reached a new one-month record in September, at nearly 1.2 million, with our latest estimates suggesting that all industries have at least as many jobs on offer now as before the onset of COVID-19, he added.

The agency also found that the country’s rate of unemployment also fell further to 4.5% between June and August, down from 4.6% in the quarter to July.

Wages rose steeply again, with average weekly earnings up 7.2% with bonuses or 6% without bonuses in the three months to August. However, the agency stressed that the figures continue to be skewed by the impact of the pandemic on wages a year ago.

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