The U.K. unemployment rate rose for a sixth straight month in December as renewed coronavirus restrictions shut down most businesses across the country.
The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that unemployment rose to 5.1% in December, up 0.1% from the previous month and 1.3% from a year earlier. The number of people on company payrolls has dropped by 726,000 since the pandemic began last February, with 58.5% of the decline coming among people under 25.
The figures don’t show the full impact of COVID-19 restrictions on employment because some 1.9 million workers remain on furlough. A government program covers 80% of their wages.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced plans to slowly end a national lockdown in England in hopes of safely reopening the economy and social life as infection rates drop and widespread vaccinations reduce the threat from COVID-19.