The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) early data suggests 163,000 workers lost their jobs in May whilst the month before saw 449,000.
The number of paid employees showed a drop of 2% since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March. Last month the ONS recorded a rise of 23% or 528,000 to a total of 2.8m of jobless claims for Universal Credit.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics said, “The slowdown in the economy is now visibly hitting the labour market, especially in terms of hours worked.
“Early indicators for May show that the number of employees on payrolls were down over 600,000 compared with March.
“The claimant count was up again, though not all of these people are necessarily unemployed
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Jonathan Reynolds said, “These numbers show that unless the government acts, the UK is likely to face mass unemployment on a scale not seen for decades once the furlough scheme is withdrawn.”
Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said, “The headline figures may not show it, but a lot has changed since April, with the claimant count rising to 2.8m, the unemployment rate is likely to be much higher than 3.9% now.
“But with the lockdown being eased and the economy opening up, hiring should grow.”