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Gloucestershire Business News

Unemployment hits five year high

UK unemployment rose to 5.1 per cent in the three months to December, its highest level for five years, according to the latest figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 1.74 million people were unemployed between October and December, up 454,000 on the same period in 2019, as reported by the BBC.

The figures show 726,000 less people are on payrolls than before the start of the pandemic. Around 425,000 of those are aged under-25.

The ONS said there were some early signs of the labour market stabilising, with a small increased in employees paid through payroll over the last couple of months.

Last month, 83,000 more people were in payrolled employment than in December.

Figures from early this month suggested around six million people are currently on furlough, with a lot of uncertainty around what will happen when the scheme ends.

Next week's Budget is expected to set out plans to help the labour market through the remainder of the pandemic and recovery.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "Official employment statistics do not fully reveal the challenges currently faced in the jobs market. Small firms are having to make incredibly hard choices about staff numbers and are struggling to recruit.

"The Chancellor should take action next week: cutting employer national insurance contributions and reintroducing a job retention bonus.

"We also need to help those currently out of work who are thinking about launching a new business, through funding for the New Enterprise Allowance and Start-Up Loans programme, along with a fresh Kickstart Start-Up initiative to help those who have been on furlough to be their own boss and launch a venture themselves."

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