Yorkshire firms face unprecedented unemployment crisis

Exclusive: New analysis shows that Yorkshire faces an unprecedented unemployment shock as a result of the growing coronavirus crisis.

Covid-19 has changed people's lives

The analysis, conducted by Learning and Work Institute, found that 423,000 jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber are in ‘shutdown sectors’.

These are the industries which have been hit most by the measures to slow the spread of the virus, and where most businesses have been forced to reduce trading or close altogether. This represents over one in six jobs (18 per cent) in the region.

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Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said that if just one in three workers in shutdown sectors lose their jobs, unemployment in Yorkshire could increase to a higher level than during the last recession.

The analysis suggests that coronavirus will have a particularly significant impact on young people, women and workers with lower levels of qualifications in Yorkshire, raising concerns that its impact will deepen pre-existing inequalities.

The research found that workers aged under 25 in the region are more than twice as likely to work in a shutdown sector than those aged 25 or over.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) of women in Yorkshire work in a shutdown sector, compared with 14 per cent of men.

Just one in ten (11 per cent) of Yorkshire employees with a degree level qualification work in a shutdown sector, compared with nearly one in four (23 per cent) workers who do not have a qualification higher than GCSE level.

The analysis suggests coronavirus will cause an unprecedented increase in unemployment. Across the UK there were over 400,000 claims for Universal Credit per week in the final two weeks of March, over seven times higher than the same period last year, and far higher than at any point during the last recession.

Learning and Work Institute’s analysis suggests that the gains of five years of jobs growth across the UK were reversed in just one month.

In the last decade, the employment rate in Yorkshire and the Humber has risen by four percentage points and the unemployment rate has fallen by nearly half.

However, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk in Yorkshire, there are concerns that recent progress will be reversed.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said: “The coronavirus crisis is first and foremost a public health emergency, but it will also have a severe economic impact.

“This impact will be felt unevenly across the country, and there is a very real risk that the crisis will deepen pre-existing regional and social inequalities.

“Following swift action to support people and businesses at the start of the crisis, it’s time to start planning now for how we can get Britain back to work. This will require concerted effort from national and local leaders, and a step-change in investment in employment support.”

The report found that the increase in unemployment would have been bigger without the Government’s unprecedented emergency measures to support businesses and protect jobs, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The institute is calling on the Government to work with local government to set out an ambitious strategy to get Britain back to work once the worst of the pandemic is over.