One in 20 UK workers return from furlough in recent weeks

FILE PHOTO: Police officers are seen in Waterloo station during the morning rush hour following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – One in twenty private-sector employees in Britain returned to work from furlough in the past two weeks, according to official figures on Thursday that suggest a gradual reopening of the economy is underway.

The construction, manufacturing, and food and accommodation sectors saw the highest proportion of their workers returning from furlough, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey of businesses showed.

Some 79% of workers in a separate official survey said they were working either from home or at their workplace as of June 14, up from 70% the previous week, the ONS said.

Thursday’s data are intended to offer an up-to-date steer on the latest economic trends and are classified by the ONS as experimental, unlike its traditional but lagging gauges of the labour market.

Earlier this week the ONS said the number of people on British employers’ payrolls fell by more than 600,000 in April and May as the coronavirus lockdown hit the labour market, and vacancies plunged by the most on record.

Britain’s government said this week more than 9 million jobs – about a third of the workforce – were being supported by its furlough scheme, at a cost of over 20 billion pounds ($25 billion) so far.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken

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