The UK unemployment rate rose to 4.5% between June and August as the pandemic continued to hit jobs
The UK's unemployment rate has hit the highest level in three years in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.
In its latest update, the ONS said that an estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed between June and August, while redundancies stood at 227,000.
Jonathan Athow, the ONS's deputy national statistician for economic statistics, told the BBC there had been a "sharp increase" in those out of work and job hunting since March.
"Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular.
"(Of those out of work) about 300,000 are aged 16-24, so about 60 per cent of the fall in employment... that's really disproportionate," he added.
Meanwhile, the number claiming work related benefits hit 2.7 million in September, an increase of 1.5 million since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
Also, a Citibank analysis has suggested that the unemployment rate could hit 8.5 per cent in the first half of 2021, a level not seen since the early 1990s.
UK employment minister Mims Davies said the UK hadn't seen labor market statistics like today's since 2009, when the country was in recession.
"Today's figures sadly show what we already knew," she said but added that there had also been "some positives", including a growth in vacancies.
Asked about support for those living under tighter coronavirus restrictions, Davies said: "I think the chancellor made it clear that we're doing everything we can in terms of supporting people as those new tiers come in.
"I do recognize some of those sectors, where the impact of Covid is more extreme, supporting them is more challenging but we're doing everything we can as part of our plan for jobs, which is a £ 30bn package."