The UK economy will be back to its pre-COVID-19 level around the middle of 2022, according to economists in a Reuters poll who said unemployment would peak at 6.2% as 2021 draws to a close and the pandemic job support scheme ends.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that the jobless rate was 5% in the three months ending in January, down from 5.1% in December. Economists had expected the rate to tick up to 5.2%. The labour market is showing some signs of resilience in the face of COVID-19. The pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in job losses, but with continued support from the furlough scheme and the economy now gradually reopening, worst-case scenarios are now slowly coming off the table. Despite the dip in headline unemployment, the jobless rate remains near a five-year high. Out-of-work numbers have been rising since the start of last year and began accelerating sharply around May. The unemployment rate has risen by 1.1% over the last 12 months.

The number of temporary employees in the UK increased by 5.0% on a seasonally adjusted basis to a total of approximately 1.49 million for the three-month period from August 2020 through December 2020, when compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. Temporary workers are self-identified when surveyed by the ONS, and they include those who are on fixed-period contracts, temporary agency workers, casual workers, seasonal workers and others in temporary work. ONS data for the period showed the number of temporary employees as a percentage of total employment was 5.3%, up from 5.1% when compared to a year ago.

For the three months ending in January 2021, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in London (7.2%) and the lowest was in the South East (3.4%). The highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South East (78.5%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (69.3%).

[infogram id=”9a90c0bf-d549-441e-a533-7bb4852d0d92″ prefix=”OUq” format=”interactive” title=”2021 Q2: 1 UK Unemployment Rate Forecast”]

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