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UK jobs market 'turns corner' as 100,000 hired ahead of reopening

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·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
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Restrictions in the UK began to ease last month, allowing hospitality, gyms, and care facilities to partially reopen. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images
Restrictions in the UK began to ease last month, allowing hospitality, gyms, and care facilities to partially reopen. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

Companies hired almost 100,000 people last month as Britain's economy began to reopen. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that the national payroll expanded by 97,000 between March and April. The increase was the biggest monthly jump in jobs in nearly six years according to Jack Kennedy, a UK economist at Indeed.

The rapid increase in hiring came as non-essential retail, outdoor venues, and leisure and care facilities were allowed to reopen from 12 April. Restrictions were eased again this week, suggesting the hiring spree could continue.

Danni Hewson, a financial analyst at AJ Bell, said the figure showed "how quickly reopening is firing up the economy." 

"Job vacancies overall were up 8% on the last quarter and many hospitality bosses have spoken about their difficulty in recruiting and the possibility they may have to offer higher wages to lure people back to the sector," she said.

April marks the fifth consecutive month of increases in the payroll number although it remains 772,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

"Compare the figures to pre-pandemic levels and there is a still a long way to go but the sector that bore the brunt of lockdown restrictions is already hiring," Hewson

Solid payroll growth was part of a package of jobs data that showed the UK employment market in good health despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The official unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 4.8% and the employment rate rose.

"The latest UK employment data provides further signs that the jobs market has begun to turn a bit of a corner since the turn of the year," said James Smith, a developed market economist at ING.

Smith said Tuesday's data suggested the peak in unemployment "may not be as high as first feared" and could prove "fairly short-lived".

The FTSE (^FTSE) and the pound (GBPUSD=X) both rallied on the back of the data.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Protecting and creating jobs continues to be my top priority. While sadly not every job can be saved, nearly 2 million fewer people are now expected to be out of work than initially expected – showing our Plan for Jobs is working."

Watch: What is the job support scheme?

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