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UK unemployment rate rises for 6th straight month

Last Updated Feb 23, 2021 at 2:00 am MST

A woman wearing a face covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic cleans inside a shop during lockdown in London, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON — The U.K. unemployment rate rose for a six 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.

The Associated Press