“Unemployment figures represent the calm before the storm”, says Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK.
“Today’s figures point at the success of the Government’s furlough scheme to shield the labour market from the worse of the immediate crisis. But as the Job Retention Scheme unwinds in coming months, the full impact of the recession on unemployment is likely to be revealed.
“There was a relatively small rise in unemployment in May to 4.1%, while actual hours worked began to rise slightly as the lockdown was eased.
“A sharp decline in the number of self-employed men, and around half a million workers who were temporarily away from their work due to COVID-19 without pay, point at a worse picture than the headline numbers convey. Although some of these workers may have resumed paid work as the lockdown eased.”
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