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The number of UK workers on company payrolls has fallen 649,000 during the coronavirus crisis, official figures have revealed, with another 74,000 jobs lost in June.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said early estimates showed the number of paid employees fell by 1.9% year-on-year in June to 28.4 million.
It said the pace of job losses appeared to have slowed in June, with claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes falling by 28,100 between May and June to 2.6 million.
However, the number of people claiming Universal Credit has more than doubled since March – soaring 112.2% or by 1.4 million – in a sign of the mounting jobs crisis.
Meanwhile, unemployment figures painted a complex picture, with the rate of unemployment remaining unexpectedly unchanged at 3.9%.
But experts said this figure masked a sharp fall in employment, down 126,000 in the quarter to 32.95 million, with the rate dropping to 76.4%.
This decline was the steepest since 2011 and was driven mostly by a record fall in the self-employed, according to the ONS.
Meanwhile, with 9.4 million people on furlough classed as employed, the true impact is expected to only be shown after the current support scheme ends in October.
The data, which was released on Thursday, also showed that the number of job vacancies fell 463,000 between March and May to a record low of 333,000 as companies froze hiring in the face of the pandemic.
Sara Wilcocks, head of communications at poverty charity Turn2Us said it was clear the UK was heading for an intense period of high unemployment.
“Without intervention this will lead to mass personal debt, rising homelessness and increasing numbers of families going hungry,” she said.
“The government introduced the furlough scheme to help millions of people keep their jobs at the height of the pandemic – they must now double down to protect people through the second phase of this crisis.
“We urge the DWP to increase social security spending, eliminate the five week wait for Universal Credit and ensure that benefit conditionality is flexible to claimant’s needs and opportunities in their area.”
Mims Davies, the government’s minister for employment, said: “We know that people are worried about their livelihoods which is why we’ve put in place a Plan For Jobs.
“A crucial part of that is doubling the number of frontline work coaches so that every jobseeker gets support to find work as well as launching the Kickstart scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country.”