Despite the country still being in lockdown, the UK’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.8% in the three months to March.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) unemployment fell by 0.1% from 4.9% in February.

The number of payroll employees continued to increase for the fifth consecutive month in April. However, the number of payroll employees remains 772,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

The hospitality sector, those aged under 25 years and those living in London have seen the largest falls in jobs since February 2020.

Meanwhile, job vacancies hit their highest level in more than 12 months.

Commenting on the figures, Matthew Percival, Director of People and Skills at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: ‘Having the highest number of vacancies since the pandemic first hit shows the value of the roadmap for reopening the economy.

‘However, businesses are starting to report vacancies they’re struggling to fill so government support for skills and retraining is essential.

‘Businesses increasingly need to know what rules will be in place after 21 June to make their next reopening decisions.

‘They’re hoping to avoid any further bumps in the road and will be closely watching the trajectory of new variants and the conclusion of reviews into social distancing and COVID-status certificates.’

“The last 14/15 months have been tough for a lot of businesses, especially in the hospitality sector. Lots of employees have also suffered with their employers being forced to let them go. It is good to see that we are gradually decreasing the unemployment rate, and that more jobs are on offer for those who may have lost theirs due to the pandemic.”

Nigel Holland