UK Unemployment Level Improves

According to the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate stood at 4.8% in March, against the previous reading of 4.9% and expectations of 4.9%.

The number of employed people in the UK fell by 15,100, better than the previous month’s decline of 19,400 but lower than expectations of a 25,600 increase, leaving the claimant count rate at 7.2%.

Average earnings including bonus rose by 4% in March, lower than the previous month’s 4.5% gains and expectations of 4.6%. Excluding bonus, average earnings rose by 4.6%, higher than the previous month’s 4.4% and in line with expectations.

UK unemployment remains on track to peak at a much lower level than in recent recessions,” commented the head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce. “However, the squeeze on business cash flow from any marked delay to the planned full reopening of the economy may trigger renewed job losses, particularly when furlough becomes less generous over the summer.”

It seems that expectations for the eventual lifting of COVID restrictions, as well as the advance of the vaccination campaign, are having a positive effect on the job market, which was hit hard by the pandemic. About 4,452,756 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 127,684 deaths, making the United Kingdom one of the most affected countries in Europe.

The vaccination campaign has been relatively successful. More than 36.7 million people have already received the first dosage of the vaccine, while 20.2 million have received the second dosage, which accounts for about 30.4% of the population.

Recently, the government pledged to speed up its COVID-19 vaccination program, now that the Indian variant is becoming the most prominent one in certain parts of the country. Experts expect the Indian variant to become the dominant strain in the country in the next few days. The government is now struggling to contain the virus and has already announced that the spread of the Indian strain may delay efforts to continue easing restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the end of social distancing rules, though given the spread of the new variant, he may delay his announcement. 

By 10:24 GMT, the pound sterling went up by 0.43% against the US dollar to the 1.4194 level.

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