UK job vacancies plummeted in the three months to March as the labour market shrank in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said vacancies plunged 52,000 to 795,000 with the largest decline in manufacturing and retailing.
Unemployment increased 22,000 to 1.36 million in the three months to February and the number of people in work increased 172,000 to 33.07 million, before Covid-19 gripped the UK.
The ONS said the increase was heavily driven by a jump in the number of women in work, which rose by 318,000 to 15.73 million.
The organisation's head of labour market statistics, David Freeman, said: "Our final data wholly from before the coronavirus restrictions were in place showed the labour market was very robust in the three months to February.”
To protect jobs the government has implemented The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help pay the wages of some one million people working for 140,000 businesses.
Deputy Director General at The Confederation of British Industry Josh Hardie said the scheme would make an “enormous difference”.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer he said: “Putting people on furlough isn’t a magic solution that makes everything okay, but it does make an enormous difference and the vast majority of those, if we get this right, will have jobs to return to.”
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