Coronavirus: Unemployment claims soar in Shropshire
Unemployment in Shropshire jumped in the three months to March as the labour market was struck by the coronavirus crisis.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that UK unemployment increased by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the quarter – for the West Midlands it was up 14,000 on the previous quarter at 146,000.
Nationally unemployment claims soared by more than 69 per cent last month after the coronavirus lockdown hit the labour market.
Jobless claims under Universal Credit surged by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April, compared with the previous month.
In Shropshire, numbers claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, were up 3,240 to 7,275 – 3.8 per cent of the working population, with Telford and Wrekin up 2,710 to 6,155 (5.5 per cent). Powys saw claimants up by 1,445 to 2,885 (3.8 per cent).
For the West Midlands the numbers claiming were up 72,660 from March to 217,725 (7.6 per cent).
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The employment rate in the West Midlands for January to March was 75 per, cent with the number working 2.71 million with the unemployment rate five per cent - the second highest rate in the UK – against the UK rate of 3.9 per cent.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: "While only covering the first weeks of restrictions, our figures show Covid-19 is having a major impact on the labour market.
"In March employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction.
"Through April, though, there were signs of falling employment as real-time tax data show the number of employees on companies' payrolls fell noticeably, and vacancies were sharply down too, with hospitality again falling steepest."
Official statisticians also said that early estimates for April indicate that the number of paid employees fell by 1.6 per cent compared to 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 to the previous quarter.