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Revealed: The UK cities returning to the office

·3-min read
Young people with face masks back at work in office after coronavirus quarantine and lockdown.
British workers are gradually returning to the office as coronavirus restrictions ease. Photo: Getty

Britain's workers are returning to the rat-race as the UK economy reopens and businesses slowly shift the gears back to the office.

With restrictions gradually lifting new figures show that workplace footfall has increased in some cities and towns across the country. 

According to a study by Dojo, Chelmsford saw the biggest jump of people returning to work, with footfall increasing by 19% to -40%, compared to -59% in January this year. 

Dojo compared the footfall at the height of the pandemic from 13 January 2021 and when restrictions started to lift in mid-April this year. 

Watch: City of London expects most workers to return

Luton in South East England came in second, with the number of people commuting to the office rising by 17% to -25%, compared to -42% in January.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, Peterborough saw the least rise in footfall, with figures increasing 14% last month. 

The data highlights that while workers remain cautious about returning and with numbers still far below pre-pandemic levels, the easing of measures provided a boost to city centre offices, coffee shops and transport.

Image: Dojo
Image: Dojo

Jon Knott, head of customer insights at Dojo, said: "This increased footfall back into city centres will be no-doubt welcomed by small businesses operating in town and city centres that have been forced to close due to lack of footfall."

"Coffee shops and cafes may see some benefit from commuters slowly returning from their homes to their workplaces."

Read more: UK workers weigh up the possibility of COVID passports

It comes as official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed over half of people who dropped off the UK payroll in the last year were under 25. While 80% were under the age of 35.

ONS's number show young people are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus jobs crisis.

According to the ONS figures released in April, 813,000 jobs disappeared from the UK payroll since March 2020. 436,000 (53.7%) of the roles were done by people under the age of 25.

The number of under-25s on the payroll hit just 3.4m, which youth charity Impetus said was a record low.

A separate report by the Resolution Foundation and Nuffield Foundation, showed the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest annual employment drop for employees over the age of 50 since the 1980s.

According to the study, published in April, the pandemic has created a "U-shaped" employment shock, which impacted older and younger workers more than those in the middle of the age distribution.

While the 16-24-year-olds saw the biggest dip in work in the past year — 3.9 percentage points — the fall in employment among those between 50-to-69 has been twice as large as those aged 25-to-49 (1.4 compared to 0.7 percentage points).

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?

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