17. Weekly Newsletter
Older Workers in Unemployment
The UK’s ‘older workers’, defined as 50+ years old, have experienced the largest annual fall in employment since the 1980s in the current challenging COVID economy. Research, from Close Brothers, has suggested that 1 in 5 older workers have delayed their retirement due to the pandemic; meanwhile, unemployment has risen to around 5% with many more remaining on furlough.
Over the pandemic, two-thirds of the workers who were laid off were under the age of 25 but these were more frequently in high employee turnover positions- such as the retail and hospitality sector. This has fortunately enabled a U-shaped employment recovery. Comparatively, widespread concerns have also been raised about the challenges of re-entering the workplace for older workers following a year in which there was a 33% increase of 50+ year olds out of work. Furthermore, this has been exacerbated by typical hourly earnings declining 9.5% for those who have since found new employment.
Just over 4.4m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID but the average daily increase in cases is now at 2,064– compared to over 60,000 at the start of 2021. A total of around 127,000 deaths have additionally been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 33.8m people have received their first vaccine and 12.9m of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to 46.7m.
On Sunday, the UK reported the lowest number of daily deaths since early September and has also shipped surplus medical supplies to India. However, the possibility of international travel over the summer continues to be viewed with widespread scepticism by the British public. The possibility of foreign holidays being legally allowed was set to be declared on the 17th of May but this is highly likely to be delayed. Travelling outside of the UK, without a reasonable excuse, results in a £5,000 fine per individual in the current climate.
Shopping Fuelling Rebound
Forecasts for the UK’s 2021 GDP growth have been raised from 5% to 6.8% which would be the highest increase since ONS records began. The EY Item Club also expect the economy to equal its pre-pandemic size in Q2 of 2022 (3 months earlier than previously thought) with consumer confidence rising at the fastest rate in 10 years. Another prediction, by EY, highlights unemployment peaking at 5.8% at the end of the year and marks a significant improvement on the last estimate of 7.0%.
Accountancy giant Deloitte noted that Britain is due for a “sharp snap back”; this is believed to be especially true for retail as ‘going to a shop’ came out as top of the league tables for post-lockdown leisure activities. Forecasts for the present Q2 show encouraging 4-5% growth with the assistance of continued government spending. Another area of investment, which has received widespread media attention, is the potential acquisition of Arsenal Football Club by Spotify founder Daniel Ek for an expected £2bn.