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Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and work


On 10 September 2021, the total volume of online job adverts remained substantially higher above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic volume, at 128% of its February 2020 average level. The industries with the lowest amount of job adverts relative to pre-pandemic levels were "education”, “graduate” and “travel / tourism”.

Both businesses and individuals report they would prefer a "hybrid" working approach (mixture of office and homeworking) in the future. Homeworkers reported greater work-life balance, while businesses saw improvements in staff well-being as a reason to increase working from home (April to May 2021).

Read more about the economic impact of coronavirus in the economic roundup.

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Employment, furlough and income

The total volume of online job adverts on 10 September remains at 128% of its February 2020 average level

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 10 September 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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The total volume of online job adverts remained substantially above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic volume, at 128% of its February 2020 average level (10 September 2021). The “transport, logistics and warehouse” category remained the industry with the highest amount of job adverts relative to its February 2020 average pre-pandemic level, at 325%.

There were five categories which were below their pre-pandemic levels, the lowest of which were "education”, “graduate” and “travel / tourism”, all at 92% of their February 2020 average level.

Last updated: 16/09/2021  

Read more about this in Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators 

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Weekly household spending fell by more than £100 on average during the coronavirus pandemic

  • UK households reduced their spending during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (in the year to March 2021) by an average of £109.10 a week. 

  • During the pandemic (in the year to March 2021), households typically saw lower levels of spending relative to income; however, higher-income households saw a larger spending drop relative to their income than those on lower incomes, providing them with greater opportunity to save or ease financial pressures. 

  • Younger people were more likely to report financial pressures than older age groups in the pandemic, with people aged under 35 years most likely to find keeping up with bills a burden (May 2020 to February 2021). 

  • Between May 2020 and February 2021, those of Black ethnicity were the most likely to report falling behind with many bills (3%), and to find keeping up with bills a heavy burden (20%) – a higher proportion than in the whole population.

Last updated: 13/09/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the impact on household finances and living standards

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Working adults on the lowest incomes were most likely to see a fall in household income

Economically active adults’ change in household income in financial year ending (FYE) 2021 compared with FYE 2020, by income quintile, Great Britain

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While many households saw their spending fall during the pandemic (in the year to March 2021), substantial changes in the economy meant that many also saw their income fall. Workers on lower incomes were more likely to report decreases in income in the year to March 2021 compared with the previous financial year; 42% of those on the lowest incomes reported a decrease, compared with 31% of those on the highest incomes.

This could be because of the types of jobs in different income groups. Workers on lower incomes were more likely to be furloughed and less likely to be able to work from home than those on higher incomes. People on higher incomes were also more likely to be paid in full if they were unable to work, compared with those on lower incomes.

Last updated: 13/09/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the impact on household finances and living standards

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The self-employed were less able to make ends meet than before the pandemic, unlike the population as a whole

Proportion of people reporting that they found it “fairly easy”, “easy”, or “very easy” to make ends meet, Great Britain

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During the pandemic, most people’s ability to make ends meet increased, but this varied across different groups. For some, such as the self-employed, younger age groups and those of Black and Mixed ethnicity, the ability to make ends meet declined. Self-employed workers were also consistently more likely to report reduced hours and reduced income than employees.

Last updated: 13/09/2021

Read more about this in Coronavirus and the impact on household finances and living standards

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Homeworking

It appears that working from home has benefits for older workers and their employers, with older workers saying their productivity, well-being and work-life balance improves. There is also some evidence that working from home allows older workers to retire later.

Those who were less able to switch to working from home are more likely to have poor health, to live in deprived areas, to have lower or no qualifications and lower well-being. Therefore, while increased working from home among older workers may benefit some, having fewer opportunities to do so may reinforce existing inequalities.

Last updated: 25/08/2021

Read more about this in Living longer: impact of working from home on older workers

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Future expectations of homeworking are uncertain and differ between businesses and individuals

  • Both businesses and individuals preferred a "hybrid" working approach (mixture of office and homeworking) in the future, with those earning higher incomes expecting more "hybrid" working than those earning lower incomes. 

  • Nearly two-fifths (38%) of businesses expect 75% of their workforce to be at their usual place of work, whereas a large proportion (36%) of individuals currently homeworking expected to spend most or all of their time homeworking. 

  • Around a third of businesses (32%) were uncertain what proportion of the workforce will be working from their usual place of work. 

Last updated: 14/06/2021 

Read more about this in Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking: UK April to May 2021

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Improved staff well-being was the main reason for businesses intending to increase homeworking

Reasons why businesses plan to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, UK, 19 April to 2 May 2021

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When asked why they intend to use increased homeworking in the future, 80% of businesses cited improved wellbeing as the reason. Reduced overheads and increased productivity were also commonly reported reasons. 

Last updated: 14/06/2021 

Read more about this in Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking: UK April to May 2021

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Further information


This page provides an overview of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, bringing together data from multiple sources. Each graphic provides a link to explore the topic further. See the more information page to read about different data sources used in the tool.

The tool is updated regularly when relevant data are published. This is typically at least twice a week, for example:

  • when weekly deaths registrations are published (usually on a Tuesday)

  • when results from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, and Opinions and Lifestyle Survey are published (usually on a Friday)

Daily updates on COVID-19 levels and vaccinations can be found on GOV.UK.

Some policy areas are devolved and more information is available for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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Contact

Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk