Payrolls expand amid brighter job figures
By Rob Freeman | 23rd March 2021
The number of people on payrolls rose by almost 200,000 in the three months to February, but remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
February saw 68,000 more people on the payroll according to the Office for National Statistics, a third successive month the figure has risen.
But the total remains 693,000 lower than the same time last year - the last complete month before coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.
Of those losses, 437,000 were aged between 16 and 24.
The unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 per cent from the previous month to five per cent with 1.7 million out of work, the highest for five years.
CBI people and skills director Matthew Percival said: "Clear evidence about the impact of the pandemic on young people over the past year reinforces the need to extend the deadline for the Kickstart scheme for another six months.
"With approximately five million people still on furlough, the Chancellor's move to extend and taper the scheme will help support many jobs as the roadmap for reopening gets underway."
British Chambers of Commerce head of economics Suren Thiru said the figures suggested the jobs market is becoming more resilient.
He said: "Ongoing wage support, greater clarity provided by the government's roadmap and the adaptations made by some firms to operate under lockdown restrictions helped support higher payroll employment in February.
"Extending furlough will limit the peak in job losses but with many firms struggling with the damage done to their cashflow by a year of covid restrictions, unemployment is likely to remain on an upward trajectory until well beyond a full reopening of the economy."
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