UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: EVENING STANDARD/JEREMY SELWYN
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: EVENING STANDARD/JEREMY SELWYN

London — Young British people and minorities whose jobs were spared by the government’s wage subsidy programme in the spring are being laid off now.

About a fifth of young people who were furloughed have now lost their jobs, according to a survey by YouGov for the Resolution Foundation. A similar percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic workers (BAME) have also been cut. Only a third of the young who were let go have been able to find new work, the think-tank said on Wednesday.

The report highlights the government’s challenge as it tries to fight a resurgence of coronavirus with localised restrictions while preventing a new spike in unemployment. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is introducing new support measures that are less generous than those offered in the spring, and joblessness is already rising.

“The true nature of Britain’s jobs crisis is starting to reveal itself,” said Kathleen Henehan, a researcher at Resolution. “Worryingly, fewer than half of those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have been able to find work since.”

Of all the workers furloughed, about half have returned to their jobs full-time, while a third remain partially furloughed and a 10th are out of work altogether. The findings indicate that the jobless rate reached 7% in September, and as much as 20% among 18-24 year olds, meaning Britain is facing the highest youth unemployment in four decades.

Self-employed workers have also been hit hard, with more than half now earning less than before the crisis, and government support has been “poorly targeted”, Resolution said. One in six self-employed who claimed government aid experienced no loss of income, while half a million who are out of work received no help.

A separate report showed that employers nevertheless become more confident about hiring in the third quarter. A survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) showed them more optimistic than in the previous period, but still markedly gloomier than at the start of the year before the virus struck.

“The big test now is ensuring this jobs recovery can continue as businesses have to keep working online in the face of a renewed rise in coronavirus cases,” said Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC.



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