The number of payroll employees fell by 649,000 between March and June in Britain due to the impact of coronavirus.
This is as experts warned unemployment could continue to surge in the coming months, official statistics showed Thursday.
April saw the sharpest drop of 450,000, followed by easing numbers in May and June as lockdown was gradually lifted, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It found only an estimate of 333,000 vacancies existed for April to June, 59.9 per cent fewer than a year earlier and also the lowest level since the vacancy survey began in 2001.
Matthew Percival, director of people and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said “these figures show serious difficulties for hundreds of thousands of people.
“But unfortunately, this is still only the beginning of the impact on the labour market.
“Flattening the unemployment curve will remain paramount’’.
“It will be vital for business and government to work together to successfully deliver the Kickstart Scheme simply and quickly in the autumn to support young people.
“There can be no time lost in preparing people for the most difficult jobs market in decades,’’ Percival said.
Under the government’s job retention scheme, more than nine million workers, unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak, can receive 80 per cent of their pay, up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds (about $3,148) a month till the end of October.
Employers are expected to share some of the costs starting from August.
The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast, this week that between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of people furloughed would become unemployed when the scheme is withdrawn.
It predicted unemployment peaks at four million, or 12 per cent, at the end of this year in a central scenario and 4.5 million in the downside scenario.
A survey of 7,400 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce revealed that nearly a third of businesses expect to decrease the size of their workforce in the next three months while 28 per cent of those surveyed already cut jobs in the second quarter.
The British Government announced, last week, an additional 30-billion-pound ($37.8 billion) package to support jobs, including a bonus for employers for every furloughed worker who returns to work.
The package focuses on skills and young people and protecting jobs through a VAT cut for the hospitality sector.