The reopening of the hospitality sector drove a recovery in UK employment in May, with groups that had suffered the biggest job losses since the start of the pandemic having the greatest rebound.
The number of payrolled employees has risen by 197,000 since April, the sixth consecutive monthly increase, the Office for National Statistics said, with the biggest gains among people working in accommodation and food services, young people, and those living in London.
The unemployment rate averaged 4.7 per cent over the three months to April, 0.3 percentage points lower than the previous quarter, and the employment rate rose 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 75.2 per cent. The ONS said the redundancy rate had now dropped on the quarter and was similar to pre-pandemic levels, while hiring was above pre-pandemic levels in most sectors.
However, payrolled employment remains 553,000 jobs short of its level before Covid-19 took hold, underlining the fragility of the labour market as the removal of remaining coronavirus-induced restrictions is put on hold. In the hospitality sector, payroll numbers remained 187,000 lower in May than a year earlier, despite strong gains on the month, with a similar pattern in arts and entertainment.