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UK companies hire at record pace as economy reopens

UK companies hire at record pace as economy reopens

Britain’s unemployment is falling as the nation’s Covid-hit economy reopens — but vacancies are soaring as businesses struggle to recruit sufficient staff, official data showed Thursday.

The unemployment rate dipped to 4.8% in the three months to the end of May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. That was down from 5.0% in the three months to February, the ONS added.

Unemployment remains 0.9 percentage points higher than its pre-pandemic level.

But the labour market has picked up since March as a result of the economy’s phased reopening, with England set to fully exit lockdown next Monday.

The ONS added that the number of employees on payrolls soared by a record 356,000 in June.

“As we approach the final stages of reopening the economy, I look forward to seeing more people back at work and the economy continuing to rebound,” said British finance minister Rishi Sunak. “We are bouncing back,” he added.

However, sectors like hospitality have faced difficulty recruiting staff, impacted also by Brexit since the start of the year. Job vacancies jumped to 862,000 between April and June, rising by 77,500 from the first quarter.

The number of vacancies is now above its pre-pandemic level from early 2020, and stands at a three-year peak.

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