Since February 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 828,000, however, the ONS said larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from its Labour Force Survey (LFS) showed a large increase in the unemployment rate while the employment rate continues to fall. The number of redundancies reached a “record high” in September to November 2020 of 14.2 per thousand, although it dropped from the peak in September.
In addition, despite decreasing over the year, total hours worked increased from the low levels in the previous quarter, even with the September to November period covering a time when a number of coronavirus lockdown measures were reintroduced.
It also found there were an estimated 578,000 vacancies in the UK in October to December 2020 – 224,000 fewer than a year ago but 81,000 more than the previous quarter.
Commenting on the new figures, Matthew Percival, CBI director of People and Skills, said: “Unemployment rising to 5% and continued high redundancies show the difficult decisions businesses face.
“The prospect of extending lockdown makes it urgent that the chancellor acts now to extent job and business support. The Job Retention Scheme needs to run to at least the end of June to avoid a cliff-edge.”