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Almost half of travel workers still furloughed in August

Written by: Emma Lunn
A quarter of million workers left the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS) in August – but four in 10 (44%) travel sector workers were still furloughed.

The figures come from the latest furlough statistics published by the government. They show that about 260,000 employees were taken off the furlough scheme in August – an 85% reduction since its peak.

The industries with the highest rates of furlough were air travel (44% in August – down from 51% a month earlier), travel and tour operators (40% – down from 46%), photography (34% – down from 35%), creative arts and entertainment (24% – down from 28%), and clothes manufacturers (25% – down from 26%).

The older you are, the more likely you were to be stuck on furlough. Those aged 65 and over had the highest rates of furlough, at 7%. The scheme ended at the end of September.

The figures shows that the number of workers on the furlough scheme fell to a low of 1.3 million in August. The recent peak of the number on furlough was back in January, when it hit 5.1 million. In May last year it hit an overall peak of 8.9 million.

The data also shows that the wave of job cuts many expected at the end of the furlough scheme hasn’t happened, with 12,687 notifications for redundancies issued in August, the lowest level in seven years.

Sarah Coles personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The flood of people leaving the furlough scheme in May had slowed to a trickle by August. It means 1.3 million people risked being left high and dry when the scheme was axed at the end of September, and travel workers were particularly vulnerable. The positive news is that so far, redundancy figures aren’t spiking, but we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“Almost half of air travel workers were still on furlough in August, along with two in five tour operators. When your employer doesn’t have any work for you in the travel industry at the peak of the holiday season, it doesn’t inspire much confidence that things will pick up in the autumn and winter.

“Where a whole industry is struggling, like travel, it makes life even more difficult for those who lost work when the scheme ended, because many of them face an uphill struggle to change careers and switch industries. We’ve heard a lot about the mismatch between the available jobs and the skills and experience of those who are looking for work, and travel workers are facing the horrible reality of this situation.”

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