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UK Unemployment Hits Four-year High on Coronavirus Pandemic Fallout

Shoppers walk past a Debenhams store, Browns of Chester, amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Chester, Britain. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

Shoppers walk past a Debenhams store, Browns of Chester, amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Chester, Britain. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

The rate -- or proportion of the workforce that is unemployed -- hit 4.9 percent in the three months to the end of October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

Britain's unemployment rate has struck the highest level in four years after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out a record amount of jobs, official data showed on Tuesday.

The rate -- or proportion of the workforce that is unemployed -- hit 4.9 percent in the three months to the end of October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

That compared with a rate of 4.8 percent for the quarter to the end of September. The ONS added that the rate was last higher in August 2016, when it had stood at 5.0 percent.

Since the start of the UK pandemic in March, the number of all payroll employees has dived by 819,000 -- with more than a third of this slump in the hospitality sector.

At the same time, millions of private sector workers are still receiving the bulk of their wages under the British government's furlough jobs scheme.

The bleak update comes as London's battered hospitality sector is set for further turmoil, with the capital experiencing tougher lockdown restrictions from Wednesday following a surge in Covid-19 cases across the capital.

"Overall we have seen a continuation of recent trends, with a further weakening in the labour market," said ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan.

"While there was another record rise in redundancies in the latest three months as a whole, they began to ease during October," he added.

The number of total redundancies across all sectors soared by a record 370,000 in the latest reporting period, the ONS added Tuesday.

first published:December 15, 2020, 20:13 IST