Boris Johnson warns of ‘bumpy months ahead’ amid massive job losses


Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during his visit to a construction site at The County Hospital in Hereford, western England on August 11, 2020. (Photo: MATTHEW HORWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during his visit to a construction site at The County Hospital in Hereford, western England on August 11, 2020. (Photo: MATTHEW HORWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

BORIS JOHNSON has warned of arduous times ahead, after unemployment data showed that UK job losses hit a decade-high.

“We always knew that this was going to be a very tough time for people losing their jobs,” the prime minister told reporters on Tuesday (11).

“Clearly there are going to be bumpy months ahead, and a long long way to go.”

The number of workers on UK company payrolls slumped by a further 114,000 in July from June on fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed earlier in the day.

A total 730,000 positions have been shed since March, when Britain went into lockdown over Covid-19, said the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate remained at 3.9 per cent, it added.

The Bank of England last week warned that the rate would soar to around 7.5 per cent by the end of the year following the closure of a UK government furlough scheme to subsidise workers’ wages.

“The labour market continues recent trends, with a fall in employment and significantly reduced hours of work as many people are furloughed,” said Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics.

The state has been paying up to 80 per cent of wages for almost 10 million workers under its furlough scheme, who are not classified as unemployed.

UK companies — from major retailers to airlines — are axing thousands of jobs despite government efforts to safeguard employment during the pandemic.

“The falls in employment are greatest among the youngest and oldest workers, along with those in lower-skilled jobs,” Athow noted.

“Vacancies numbers began to recover in July, especially in small businesses and sectors such as hospitality, but demand for workers remains depressed.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to end the furlough scheme in October. In its place be a stimulus package worth £30 billion, including bonuses for companies retaining furloughed staff and offering apprenticeships.

Job losses were inevitable, he said.

“I’ve always been clear that we can’t protect every job, but … we have a clear plan to protect, support and create jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope,” Sunak added.