UK unemployment soars during pandemic

Unemployment claims in the UK stand at 2.1m after rising 856k in April and 637k in the first quarter before that. The official total is not as proportionally bad as the US's 36m claimants, but a further 4.2m are receiving significant benefits under the Universal Credit scheme and the government is paying up to 80% of workers' wages to prevent furloughs and layoffs. The BBC reports the total as "bleak" news.

But the labour market is set to worsen, according to politicians and analysts, with Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, telling the BBC on Tuesday that the unemployment rate was likely "to increase significantly".

According to separate research by the Resolution Foundation, young people are most likely to have lost work or seen their income drop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds is earning less than before the outbreak, the research indicated.

The UK's benefits system is complicated. As a result, its welfare statistics tend to have a vague, misdirecting quality to them. But quantity has a quality of its own.