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Half of those furloughed since May are back to work

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More than half of workers furloughed since May returned to work by mid-August, statistics reveal.

At the peak of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in May – 30% of the UK workforce was furloughed.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Treasury confirmed that the share of the workforce on furlough fell by more than half to 11% by mid-August.

They add that it is likely to have fallen further since.

The latest statistics in August revealed 9.6 million people were furloughed at a cost of £34bn.

It comes off the back of today’s employment statistics which estimated 1.39 million people aged 16 and over were unemployed between May and July 2020 – a rate of 4.1%.

Employees on payroll was down 695,000 (2.4%) in July compared with March 2020.

However, despite an increase in the unemployment rate and the largest increase in both quarterly and annual redundancies seen since 2009, the employment rate was up and economic inactivity had fallen.

The ONS confirmed that workers furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or who are self-employed but temporarily not in work are classified as employed.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “As today’s official employment figures show, the furlough scheme has done what it was designed to do – save jobs and help people back to work, where they want to be.

“We were clear at the start of the pandemic that we couldn’t save every job, but the furlough scheme has supported millions of workers and we want to help employers keep people on. Our Job Retention Bonus will do exactly that, supporting businesses to do the right thing.”

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