Unemployment rises by 25,000 in the East of England

The latest jobless figures for the first quarter of 2020 revealed 25,000 more people out of work in the East of England than a year ago.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), there were 120,000 people unemployed in the region between January and March. That was 3.7% of the workforce. The figure is 26% higher than the same period last year. It is also an increase of 12,000 compared with the previous quarter, October to December 2019.

The government's coronavirus lockdown measures only came into force in the final week of the three-month period covered by these unemployment statistics.

According to the ONS data, there were 3.1 million people aged between 16 and 64 in the East of England, who were in employment in the first quarter of 2020, which is 78% of that age group.

In the East Midlands, which covers Northamptonshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire, unemployment was 94,000. That is 5,000 lower than it was in first quarter of 2019 but 4,000 higher than in October to December.

The graph shows the number of people registered as unemployed in the East of England since 1992. Credit: Data from the Office of National Statistics

In the UK as a whole, unemployment claims soared by more than 69% in April after the coronavirus lockdown gripped the labour market. Jobless claims under Universal Credit surged by a record 856,000 to 2.1 million in April, compared with the previous month.

Official statisticians also said early estimates for April 2020 indicate thatthe number of paid employees fell by 1.6% compared with March, as firms began to feel a greater impact from the lockdown.

Job vacancies also significantly decreased, with the number of empty posts in the three months to April diving by 170,000 to 637,000, compared with theprevious quarter.

The ONS also revealed that unemployment increased by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March, as the impact of the pandemic first started to be felt in the UK.

The rate of unemployment nudged marginally higher, to 3.9%, but remainedmarkedly below economists' predictions of 4.3%.

In the East Midlands there were 94,000 people out of work between January and March, which is 3.8% of the workforce. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

The Treasury has confirmed that 8 million jobs across the country have been furloughed under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at a cost of £11.1 billion.