The unemployment rate was up from 3.9% a month earlier – but it is not yet fully illustrative of the economic crisis, with the Treasury’s holiday program helping to keep numbers low.
Meanwhile, payroll data showed 695,000 fewer people were employed in August compared to March when the UK’s lockdown began – although after revisions to earlier data the number was lower than before.
Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “Some of the effects of the pandemic on the labor market began to wear off in July with parts of the economy reopening. ”
The number of people classified as ‘temporarily absent from work’ – including those on leave – fell in July but was still over five million while other measures including average working hours and vacancies , have also improved.
“Nevertheless, with the number of employees on the payroll again falling in August and unemployment and layoffs rising sharply in July, it is clear that the coronavirus still has a significant impact on the world of work,” said added Mr Morgan.
The total number of unemployed for the three months ending in July was just over 1.4 million
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits – which may include people on low hours or low wages – reached 2.7 million, up 121% since March.
The figures also show a stark contrast between the impact of the jobs crisis on different age groups.
The number of people with a job was 12,000 fewer in July than three months earlier.
But for people aged 16 to 24, there was a drop of 156,000 – including a record drop of 146,000 for those aged 18 to 24 – while jobs for those 65 and over fell by 92 000.
In contrast, there was an increase of 236,000 jobs for 25 to 64 year olds, including a record increase of 67,000 for women 25 to 34 years old.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “It is a difficult time for many as the pandemic continues to have a profound impact on jobs and people’s livelihoods.
“That’s why protecting jobs and helping people get back to work remains my top priority.”
Mr Sunak highlighted the government’s job retention bonus, worth up to £ 9 billion, which will reward employers who take over workers temporarily made redundant under the government-funded leave program. government.
But a number of MPs and business groups want the Treasury extension of the leave program in one form or another, fearing that if taxpayer subsidies for these jobs cease entirely as planned next month, there will be a spike in unemployment.