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Thousands of UK jobs lost as unemployment spikes

The number of people in employment fell by 120,000 between March and June 2023 and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned Britain is on the brink of a recession.

TUC analysis of official payroll statistics showed 11 of the main 20 industries in the UK are affected by a fall in the number of full-time payrolled employees. 

Accommodation and food (34,000 jobs lost), wholesale and retail (27,000 jobs lost) and construction (17,000 jobs lost) were the hardest hit.

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Unemployment overall increased by 274,000 between April and May this year.

This is steepest rise month on month since modern records began, according to separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, warned that more jobs would be put at risk if, as expected, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee announces another increase in interest rates later this week.

He said: “Ministers must stop hiding behind the Bank of England and come up with a credible plan for boosting jobs and living standards.

“With the country teetering on the brink of recession, the last thing we need is another hike in interest rates. This will just heap further misery on households and businesses and put many thousands more jobs and livelihoods at risk.”

The news comes as a study by iCompario found 15% of commuters used payday loans to pay for their fuel or fares over the last 12 months.

Zofia Bajorek, senior research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said employees need extra support in times of financial uncertainty and rising unemployment.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Employers must provide an open and honest channel of communication, providing employees with the chance to ask questions.  

“Any changes and concerns should be dealt with in an empathetic way, with managers showing that they understand the concerns that employees have, and are able to answer transparently.”

Bajorek said having an updated wellbeing policy is critical.

She added: “News of job and financial uncertainty may have an impact on staff health and wellbeing.  

“Line managers should remain in frequent contact with employees, and if they recognise signs of reduced wellbeing, should signpost employees to relevant areas of support, for example an employee assistance programme.” 

She also emphasised the importance of recognising hard work: “Employees will want to feel valued for the work that they have done, and are doing during this time.  

“Ensure that they have meaningful work and are still utilising all their skills, celebrate any in-work achievements and express gratitude so employees feel they are not being taken for granted.”