The number of workers on UK payrolls fell for the first time in four months in March, but job vacancies surged as businesses prepared to reopen after lockdown, official figures have shown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of payrolled workers dropped by 56,000 between February and March as the pandemic continued to take its toll on the jobs market.
Overall there were 813,000 fewer workers on payrolls than in March 2020.
But there were further signs that the jobs sector is stabilising, with the first quarterly fall in the unemployment rate since 2019 between December and February and statistics signalling a near-16 per cent jump in vacancies in March.
The unemployment rate eased back further to 4.9pc from 5pc in the previous three months, the ONS said.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, says the labour market remains 'subdued'.
“The latest figures suggest that the jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring," he said.
“The number of people on payroll fell slightly in March after a few months of growth.
“There are, though, over 800,000 fewer employees than before the pandemic struck, and with around five million people employed but still on furlough, the labour market remains subdued.
“However, with the prospect of businesses reopening, there was a marked rise in job vacancies in March, especially in sectors such as hospitality.”
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