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ONS: Labour market is ‘stable but subdued’

The UK unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to 28 February 2021, down from 5%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The findings suggest the labour market stabilised, despite the UK being in a third national lockdown for at least some of the quarter.

Unemployment figures are 0.9% higher than this time last year, while the employment rate stands at 75.1% (down 1.4% year-on-year and 0.1% on the previous quarter).

Separate figures also show that the number of payrolled employees fell by 813,000 people (2.8%) in March 2021, a fall driven by collapses in the hospitality and arts sectors.

In response to the data, ONS director of economic statistics, Darren Morgan, said "figures suggest the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring".

However, given the fall in payrolled employees and that 4.7 million workers remained on furlough at the end of February, "the labour market remains subdued", Morgan added.

The number of people classed as economically inactive increased by 0.7% from last year and 0.2% from the previous quarter, to 20.9%.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that unemployment will reach a peak of 6.5% at the end of 2021.

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