the ‘phoney war’ is almost over

The number of “inactives” has almost trebled to 465,000 since February, with fewer – so far at least – heading into outright unemployment.

The pain is being felt most by the young and the old as part-time working suffers and sectors like hospitality struggled for momentum, even before the latest round of restrictions was imposed in recent weeks.

The figures show a big dip in employment among 16-24 year olds, which fell by 220,000 to a record low of 3.54m, while the number of workers with jobs over the age of 65 also fell by 24,000 to 1.28m. The UK’s more flexible army of part-timers, the self-employed and temps are bearing the brunt.

Unemployment was also higher among men than women, at 4.9pc compared to 4pc over the quarter. Women are more likely to be furloughed and they are also more likely to work in sectors such as health, education and public administration, which have taken a smaller jobs blow so far. 

But women are also more likely to drop out of the workforce, according to the Resolution Foundation’s economist Nye Cominetti. She says: “Thousands of self-employed men lost their jobs, while women working part-time left the jobs market altogether.”

That trend is likely to have been driven by the unequal burden of childcare during the pandemic and is underlined by the uneven recovery in the number of hours worked. The record 20m increase to 891m over the quarter was mainly driven by men, who saw their hours jump by 17.2m.

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