Unemployment: +80% jobseeker’s allowance claimants in the UK over the past 12 months

antoine fruchard Antoine Fruchard  updated on January 11, 2021

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A booming number of jobseekers in the United Kingdom

The Covid-19 pandemic is striking hard the UK economy. As a consequence of many companies experiencing difficult situations, and even with the furlough scheme that has been maintained by the government until March 2021, the employment indicators are very bad. This is what reveals some statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

4.9%
the current  UK unemployment rate

…this is 1.2 point more than one year ago

80%
the increase in jobseeker’s allowance claimants

…across the United Kingdom, over the past 12 months

317,125
the number of jobseeker’s allowance claimants

…in November 2020. This 141,037 more than in December 2019.

The jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) is a financial help given by the UK government for people between 22 and Age Pension age, which is to be claimed while being unemployed and looking for work, or doing approved activities to find a job. The number of jobseeker’s allowance claimants is a very good indicator of the short-term employment situation, for it concerns employed people that have just lost their job and are looking for a new one.

Jobseekers in the UK : England hit the hardest

When comparing the different countries of the United Kingdom, we observe that England is the place where the jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants’ number has boomed the most between December 2019 and November 2020. Indeed, this number passed from 139,685 to 264,068, meaning an overall 89% increase!

Scotland (+68% in jobseeker’s allowance claimants) and Wales (+54.1%) have also been very affected, although in a smaller extent.

AreaDecember 2019November 2020Change over the year
England139,685264,06889.05%
Wales8,19112,62054.07%
Scotland16,56827,82967.97%
Northern Ireland11,64412,6088.28%
Jobseeker’s allowance claimants number change over the past 12 months (source : ONS)

The South of England dramatically stricken

In some parts of England, the number of JSA claimants has literally exploded. In 4 English regions, the number of claimants has even more than doubled between December 2019 and November 2020. Those are:

  • South East England: +165.6% (+24,196 claimants)
  • South West England: +154.7% (+10,750 claimants)
  • East of England: +131.8% (+14,198 claimants)
  • London: +120.3% (+28,729 claimants)

On the other way round, North East England is the English region where the growth of JSA claimants has been the smallest : ‘only’ +24.2%.

Women jobseeker’s allowance claimants number growing faster than men’

The Covid-19 pandemic economic crisis seems to be striking harder women than men. Indeed, the proportion of women claiming the JSA help is growing faster than the proportion of men:

  • Between December 2019 and November 2020, the number of women claiming jobseeker’s allowance has increased by 96.4%
  • Over the same period, this increase has ‘only’ been of 69.4% as concerns men.

However, there are still more men than women claiming this government’s financial help for people looking for a job (in November, 56.7% of the jobseeker’s allowance claimants were men, for 43.3% of women).

Middlesbrough and Slough, the opposite extremes

Slough (Berkshire)

Recorded one of the worst JSA claimants’ number increase among the UK cities: + 424.9% between December 2019 and November 2020! (passing from 193 to 1,013)

In Banbury (Oxfordshire)

…the number of JSA claimants passed from 58 in December 2019 to 375 in November 2020 (a +546.5% increase!)

Middlesbrough (North East)

Is one of the only UK cities where the JSA claimants number has decreased : – 5.4% between December 2019 and November 2020!

Stranraer (Scotland)

…has seen its JSA claimants population passing from 69 to 55, meaning a national record of 20.3% decrease over the 12 months studied

Our methodology

This study is based upon public information provided by the UK Office of National Statistics. We decided to focus on a period going from December 2019 to November 2020 for those are the 12 ultimate months for which statistics are available. For further information on our editorial guidelines please click here.

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