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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

September 15, 2020

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported today that the unemployment rate for the three-month period May 2020 to July 2020 averaged 4.1 per cent, up slightly from previous estimates. Over the last seven years, there has been a steady decline in the UK unemployment rate, falling to lows not seen since 1974.

The UK employment rate among those aged 16-64 averaged 76.5 per cent from May to July, up slightly from previous estimates. 

Data from May-July 2020 showed the impacts of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on the UK labour market. In May-July 2020 compared with April-June 2020, both the employment rate and the unemployment rate increased marginally, while the inactivity rate decreased.

Early estimates for August 2020 from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) data show that the number of paid employees fell by 2.4 per cent (695,000) compared with March 2019. Average actual weekly hours decreased by 93.9 million to 866.0 million hours in the three months to July 2020 compared to February-April 2020 and decreased by 2.8 hours to 26.3 hours compared to previous quarter.

The ONS Vacancy Survey for the period June to August 2020 shows that vacancies increased 30 per cent compared to record low in April to June. In August vacancies were lower 40 per cent compared to pre-COVID level.

The ONS Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS for the period 13 July to 26 July 2020) showed that workers on furlough reduced from 30 per cent in June to 18 per cent in July. The largest contributing sectors were entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food service activities. Despite workers continued to return from furlough leave, the UK economy is facing economic uncertainty with increases in redundancies and unemployment while incomes are decreasing due to COVID-19.

In July, the growth of average weekly earnings remained weak due to COVID-19. Total pay growth declined 0.1 per cent compared to July 2019, following a decline in May and June. Regular pay growth was up 0.2 per cent following a decline in June.

Since 2011-2012, employment in the UK has grown faster than the size of the labour force. The impact of COVID-19 is clearly apparent in falling employment and labour force in Canada and Nova Scotia for April 2020 and started to rebound in May to August 2020. 



Sources: UK Office for National Statistics: Labour Market Overview

Statistics Canada  Table  14-10-0287-02   Labour force characteristics by age group, monthly, seasonally adjusted

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