How coronavirus destroyed jobs across the UK economy in 2020

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·6-min read
British Airways was among the first major airlines to announce thousands of redundancies after the pandemic hit. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
British Airways was among the first major airlines to announce thousands of redundancies after the pandemic hit. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Britain’s labour market, with a health crisis becoming a jobs crisis throughout 2020.

Mass redundancies hit the headlines throughout the year, despite the government’s furlough scheme, loans and grants, as well as employment growth in a handful of sectors. Many employers buckled under the weight of the virus, lockdown curbs, wind-downs of government support and weak prospects for recovery.

Many sectors have been affected, with firms from supermarket Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and Lloyds bank (LLOY.L) to building manufacturer Caterpillar and newspaper giant Reach axing thousands of jobs in one brutal week in November alone.

READ MORE: UK unemployment rises as London lockdown set to further worsen job crisis

But travel, shopping, leisure and hospitality have been among the hardest-hit sectors. Here are some of the most high-profile job cuts they have seen, based on PA and Yahoo Finance UK analysis and including the total confirmed or potential job losses announced by companies at the time:

Travel — passenger numbers collapse and quarantines hurt firms

Airline chiefs called 2020 the “worst year in the history of aviation,” and revenues plummeted across the travel industry amid worldwide government restrictions and customer fears over trips overseas.

READ MORE: British Airways-owner IAG worst FTSE 100 stock of 2020

WATCH: Rolls-Royce axes 9,000 jobs amid air travel slump

Shopping and leisure — high street woes as spending slumps

The shutdown of “non-essential” retail earlier this year, curbs on gatherings and customers’ virus fears have hammered many organisations, staff and freelancers in the retail, leisure, entertainment, arts and events industries. The most high-profile job cuts included:

Hospitality firms — curfews and constant curbs wreck trade

Hospitality firms have been at the forefront of the crisis, with curbs from total shutdown to a 10pm curfew and local lockdowns hobbling their ability to trade throughout the year.

WATCH: Why job cuts continued even when the economy re-opened in the summer