Unemployment figures ‘show fragility of sector’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Employment stats: data from the Office of National Statistics showed hospitality had more than 350,000 fewer workers than the previous year (image: Getty/RyanKing999)
Employment stats: data from the Office of National Statistics showed hospitality had more than 350,000 fewer workers than the previous year (image: Getty/RyanKing999)

Related tags: Unemployment, ukhospitality, Kate nicholls, Training

The latest jobs data highlights how fragile the hospitality sector is alongside the importance it has to the country’s economic recovery off the back of the pandemic, according to one trade body.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found 80% of those who have lost their jobs since the pandemic started are under 35 and that, between December 2020 and February 2021, the number of people in paid employment fell by 56,000.

In the 12 months to March 2021, the total number of paid employees decreased by 813,000.

The hospitality sector was the worst hit industry with 355,000 fewer workers than the previous year – accounting for almost half (43%) of the national total.

Furthermore, the ONS said the number of job vacancies in January to March 2021 dropped by almost a quarter (22.7%) versus the year prior with the arts, entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food service sectors continuing to be the worst affected.

National economic recovery

The ONS also reported the total number of weekly hours worked was 959.9m – down 92.3m hours on the same period the previous year and down 20.1m hours compared with the previous quarter.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: “Today’s figures convey the current fragility of hospitality but also the sector’s importance to national economic recovery.

“Once again, the increase in unemployment, particularly among younger age groups, underlines the importance of the Government to stick to their commitment to drop Covid restrictions from Monday 21 June and for continued support for the sector."

Thousands of jobs in jeopardy

Nicholls added: “Hospitality business’ ability to reopen will remain massively hampered until the Government can deliver on its commitment to dropping the legal requirement of Covid restrictions and measures on Monday 21 June.

“Even then, with so many companies facing rent debts and business rates bills, after more than a year with little trading, many companies – and thousands more jobs – will be in jeopardy unless further support is forthcoming.

“Should the 21 June date lapse, employer furlough contributions could also tip businesses over the edge. Additional support for jobs, coupled with longer-term plans for training are vital.”

Related topics: Training

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