The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and similar benefits in Cheshire East has increased by more than 60 per cent compared to last year as the coronavirus lockdown impacts the UK economy.
Figures released this morning by the Office for National Statistics show approximately 10,985 people were making claims in the area on May 14 – an increase of 4,150 from 6,835 this time in 2019.
The increase means 4.9 per cent of people in Cheshire East aged between 16 and 64 are making claims – up from three per cent in May last year.
The number of men making claims rose from 4,080 to 6,480 – an increase of 2,400 (58.2 per cent). This brings the percentage of men claiming in Cheshire East up from 3.7 per cent to 5.8 per cent.
For women the number claiming rose by 64 per cent from 2,750 to 4,510, an overall increase of 1,760 year-on-year. This means the percentage of women in the area making claims has risen from 2.4 per cent to 3.9 per cent.
The claimant statistics include all those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and those claiming Universal Credit who are required to search for work.
These numbers – which are rounded figures and so may not tally precisely – do not include those currently furloughed from work.
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The number of UK workers on payrolls fell by more than 600,000 between March and May as lockdown hit Britain’s labour market, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS said early estimates showed the number of paid employees dropped by 2.1 per cent or 612,000 in May compared with March.
The number of people temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers, rose by six million at the end of March into April.
The ONS said jobless claims under Universal Credit jumped 23.3 per cent month-on-month in May to 2.8 million and soared 125.9% or 1.6 million since March when the UK was placed in lockdown.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The slowdown in the economy is now visibly hitting the labour market, especially in terms of hours worked.
“Early indicators for May show that the number of employees on payrolls were down over 600,000 compared with March.
“The Claimant Count was up again, though not all of these people are necessarily unemployed.”
He added: “More detailed employment data up to April show a dramatic drop in the number of hours worked, which were down almost 9% in the latest period, partly due to a six million rise in people away from work, including those furloughed.”
Minister for Employment Mims Davies said: “Today’s figures are starting to show the impact of Covid-19 on our economy, but our furlough scheme, grants, loans and tax cuts have protected thousands of businesses and millions of jobs, setting us up for recovery.
“Already our nationwide network of work coaches have moved in to support jobseekers across sectors and match them with employers who are recruiting.
“By responding to the needs of communities across the UK, they will be at the heart of our revival and renewal, helping people find new roles and move forward with their lives.”
Responding to the figures, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “These numbers show that unless the Government acts, the UK is likely to face mass unemployment on a scale not seen for decades once the furlough scheme is withdrawn.
“The Government has been slow at every stage of this crisis – they cannot afford to be slow again in responding to this threat.
“There must be urgent action from the Government to assist the hardest-hit regions and specific support for sectors particularly exposed to the nature of the Covid crisis.”