End of furlough hits 1.14m: thousands missed by early redundancy figures and will struggle for work

When furlough ended in September, 1.14 million jobs were furloughed – down 210,000 from the end of August.

The proportion of jobs on furlough was higher among smaller employers. Those with 2-4 employees had furloughed 17% of eligible staff.

Just under half of furloughed workers were over the age of 45.

Overall, 4% of eligible jobs were on furlough.

Those aged 65 and over had a furlough take up rate of 7%, compared to those aged 29 and under at 3%.

The proportion of staff on furlough rose to 36% in passenger and air transport, 35% in travel agencies, 29% in photographic services, and 15% in the personal services industry.

More than one in five of all people left on furlough were in London, and six of the ten areas with the highest levels left on furlough at the end were in boroughs around London airports.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “When the furlough scheme shut down in September, the government pulled the rug out from under 1.14 million people. And while early redundancy figures don’t show a spike, thousands of these people won’t show up in these figures.

“There was some relief when early insolvency service figures showed no big hike in the number of employers who planned to make large numbers of redundancies as the scheme drew to a close. However, not every job loss will show up in these figures, including anyone whose employer is letting fewer than 20 people go. It means those who work for smaller companies won’t appear in the figures, and these are the employers who had the highest levels of furlough when the scheme ended.

“Meanwhile, those who were relying on the scheme were particularly likely to find it difficult to find work if they lost their jobs.

“Older people are at risk, and the proportion of furlough rises with age. This is particularly worrying, because not only do older people take longer to return to the workforce on average, but they tend to take a bigger hit to their pay when they do so, compared to their younger counterparts.

“Those left on furlough at the end were also concentrated in specific industries. When there are large numbers of people with similar skills and experiences in the same industries vying for the same roles, it makes finding a new job even harder. To make matters worse, if those industries are struggling, they’re unlikely to be hiring either.

“Those on furlough at the end were also focused in particular areas, including around London airports. It means new jobs in the area will be in far greater demand, so people may struggle to find work close to home in the industries they have experience in.”