United Kingdom: Labor market cools slightly before lockdown; more recent data paints grim picture
According to the ONS, in December–February the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0% and regular pay growth (excluding bonuses) ebbed to 2.9%. However, employment continued to soar, up by 172,000 quarter-on-quarter, with the employment rate reaching a record high. The data suggests the labor market was in good health—despite a slight cooling—before containment measures hit.
More recent figures suggest unemployment will surge in the coming months though: Nearly 2 million people have made new benefits claims since the start of March, while the vast majority of firms have furloughed staff according to British Chamber of Commerce survey data.