First drop in unemployment since pandemic began welcomed by region's business leaders - The Rugby Observer

First drop in unemployment since pandemic began welcomed by region's business leaders

Rugby Editorial 27th Mar, 2021   0

THE FIRST drop in the unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic has been welcomed by business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire.

The rate dropped from 5.1 per cent to 5 per cent in the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the period from November 2020 to January 2021.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was positive news but that businesses still have tough decisions ahead.

She said: “It’s a year since the crisis began and businesses and individuals have had to adapt to these unprecedented times.

“The unemployment rate is much higher than before the crisis began but it is welcome to see the rate fall for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

“That said, there are still many businesses across our patch relying on the furlough scheme and there are still difficult times ahead. Firms are looking forward to getting back to business and, hopefully, an immediate economic bounce back – but it’s just too early to say what the recovery might look like.

“It’s vital, therefore, that government keeps a watchful eye on the recovery and – as it has done so far – supports as many viable jobs as possible.

“Once again, the figures show that young people have been the hardest hit when it comes to unemployment and that is something that we must all work together to address as we come through the crisis.”

British Chambers of Commerce Head of Economics Suren Thiru said: “While unemployment rose slightly, the continued uptick in the timelier payroll employment data indicates that the UK jobs market is becoming more resilient.

“Ongoing wage support, greater clarity provided by the government’s roadmap and the adaptations made by some firms to operate under lockdown restrictions helped support higher payroll employment in February.

“Extending furlough will limit the peak in job losses. However, with many firms struggling with the damage done to their cashflow by a year of covid restrictions, unemployment is likely to remain on an upward trajectory until well beyond a full reopening of the economy.

“While the extension to the job support schemes will protect millions of jobs and livelihoods, it is vital that those businesses and individuals who remain excluded from government support get the assistance they need to navigate a difficult period.”

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