Coronavirus-induced job losses among UK workers have totalled nearly 650,000 according to the latest labour market statistics.
 
Figures released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the number of UK employees fell by 2.2% in June compared with March, despite the government’s supportive measures. The ONS did note the overall rate of the decrease in employment had eased in June compared to a month earlier but the full effect looks likely to be revealed only when the government’s furlough scheme ends in October.

With the programme tiding over many businesses and employment contracts in the short-term, many are looking to the number of hours worked per week as a more accurate depiction of the virus impact on employment.

On this measure, the situation is no rosier. The ONS reported total weekly hours worked in the UK since the beginning of the crisis had fallen by a record 16.7%.

This is the largest annual drop since estimates began in 1971, according to the statistics organisation, with total hours worked falling to levels last seen in 1997.

Average weekly earnings across the nation in the three months to May fell by 0.3% versus the same time last year, with both earnings and total hours worked hitting the lowest paying industries the hardest, most notably food services and accommodation.

The British Fashion Council is the latest industry body to warn of the virus-led impact on jobs in the sector. In its most recent report published today, the Council predicted as many as 240,000 jobs are at risk in the UK fashion industry over the next 18 months - over a quarter of its total cohort.

And while retail stores are tentatively reopening, sweeping cancellations of big events like festivals and weddings mean the reasons to shop this year are now few and far between. 

The past few months have already seen planned job cuts at luxury brands Mulberry and Burberry, with Harrods, John Lewis and Arcadia announcing similar measures.

Covid forcing a personal savings rethink

While there could be a rebound among these sectors once coronavirus is deemed a thing of the past, or is at least controlled, reduced pay and job losses in the here-and-now have the potential to massively stunt the nation’s ability to save.

Where possible, earmarking even a small amount for long-term pension savings each month can make a huge difference over time. While it won’t be possible in many cases, and will frankly be the last thing on many people’s minds, making up the difference afterwards can be costly and misses the compounding effect of saving even small amounts now.

For long-term savers, short-term economic and market uncertainty can provide opportunities to make the most of monthly investments, with volatility often throwing up useful chances to buy good assets at cheaper prices. While we aren’t out of the woods yet, and could face an uphill economic struggle especially where jobs are concerned, keeping a pot ticking over in the background should maybe be higher up our priority lists than usual.

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