UK unemployment increases by 856,500

Although March data doesn’t reflect the reality of lockdown, April’s early numbers are a sign of things to come

Article updated: 20 May 2020 9:00am Author: Helal Miah

  • UK jobs data published this morning isn’t reflective of the current situation
  • There was a rise of 856.5k new claims, although this is less than the feared 1.2mn
  • Claims will no doubt have been tempered by furlough programmes and the Government’s attempts to prevent people from permanently losing jobs
  • Many expect we will see the unemployment rate reach near 10% next month

 Much like last week’s GDP data, the UK jobs data published this morning isn’t reflective of the current situation faced by consumers and businesses. March’s unemployment rate of 3.9% was actually a fall from 4.0% in February and given that the lockdown started on 23 March, the majority of those who lost their jobs wouldn’t have had confirmation and then claimed unemployment until April.

However the April claimant count is likely to be a sign of things to come. There was a rise of 856.5k new claims, less than the feared 1.2mn, and claims will no doubt have been tempered by furlough programmes and the Government’s attempts to prevent people from permanently losing jobs. Upon release of the data, Sterling made gains of around 0.5% and the stock market is likely to add to yesterday’s astonishing gains according to the futures markets, as we had braced ourselves for a gloomier result.

Yet, markets and investors are bracing themselves for the near certainty that the next set of jobs data will be horrible, along with other economic indicators to show that we are facing the worst economic conditions in living memory. Many expect we will see the unemployment rate reach near 10% next month and I fear it may stick at elevated levels for longer than we had believed at the start of the crisis, given how many companies and small businesses are likely to fail along the way.


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Helal Miah portrait photo
Helal Miah

Investment Research Analyst

After graduating with an economics degree from University College London, Helal started his career within private banking at Smith & Williamson Investment Management and later held analyst and fund manager roles with the Industrial Bank of Japan, Schroders and Mitsubishi Corporation. He is a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment. 

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