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East Midlands Chamber News

ONS employment statistics for July to September 2020: East Midlands Chamber response

New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the UK unemployment rate has risen to 4.8% nationally.

The figure for July to September is up from 4.5% in the three months to August as redundancies rose to a record high of 314,000 in the same period.

The number of people out of work rose by 243,000, the largest increase for a three-month period since May 2009.

In the East Midlands, the unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over was the joint-third highest in the UK at 4.9% after rising by 0.4% compared to the period between April and June.

Responding to the figures, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “The rise in the unemployment rate and record number of redundancies provides further evidence that the damage being done to the UK jobs market by the pandemic is intensifying.

“This period reflects the initial phasing-out of the Job Retention Scheme as many businesses decided the replacement support packages weren’t sufficient to stave off redundancies.

“In the East Midlands, some of our key sectors – including hospitality, tourism and events – are particularly vulnerable to the economic crisis we’re in, which explains why our unemployment rate is just above the national average.

“However, there may be some light ahead as our own Quarterly Economic Survey for Q3 2020 showed that a net 6% of businesses expected to increase the size of their workforce in the three months following September.

“It’s also important to note how Government schemes are beginning to come into effect for 16 to 24-year-olds – who have been the worst-affected demographic during this pandemic – in the form of the Kickstart scheme. The Chamber, in its role as a gateway organisation, has now submitted applications on behalf of businesses for more than 1,000 roles across 320 businesses.

“While the extension of the furlough scheme announced last week will safeguard a significant number of jobs in the short term, businesses still fear what the long-term repercussions will be as a result of the severely diminished cashflow and revenue stemming from the Government’s stop-start approach to the economy.

“The period in which the ONS figures report on were before the prospect of a second national lockdown appeared on the horizon. What businesses really need is for some certainty in order to plan effectively for the road ahead, which will ultimately lead to jobs being retained and created.”

The ONS regional statistics, including the East Midlands, can be found here.