Furlough Wage Bill

30% of the nation’s workforce is on furlough with the hardest-hit being the Accommodation and Food Service Activities industry.

The latest research by leading property recruitment specialist, Rayner Personnel, has looked at which industry is currently relying on the Government furlough scheme the most and what this equates to as a monthly wage cost.

Across all UK industries, 30% of the nation’s workforce is on furlough. That’s nearly 11 million people at a cost of £26.7bn per month.

The hardest-hit has been the Accommodation and Food Service Activities industry. The industry has the highest number of workers on furlough at 80%, more than two million workers, with a gross monthly furlough wage bill of over £5bn.

In terms of the sheer percentage of the workforce on furlough, the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry has also seen a huge number of employees furloughed (78%).

This then drops considerably to the next highest, with 37% of Construction industry workers on furlough. The Transport and Storage industry (35%) and the Administrative and Support Service Activities industry (34%) have also seen a high percentage of the total workforce furloughed.

However, in terms of the total monthly cost of the furloughed workforce, the Wholesale and Retail: Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles is the industry with the second-highest gross wage bill. The sector is currently paying out £2.9bn a month in furloughed wages, with the Administrative and Support Service Activities industry, Construction and the Arts Entertainment and Recreation sectors also seeing a monthly furlough cost exceeding £2bn a month.

While the Real Estate sector has seen the number of workers furloughed hit 28%, the monthly wage packet for these workers is just £460,000 per month. This is the second-lowest of all industries, with just the Water Supply Sewerage Waste Management And Remediation Activities industry coming in lower.

Josh Rayner, CEO of Rayner Personnel, commented: 

“The ongoing restrictions of the current pandemic are understandably causing some sectors to rely on the Government’s furlough scheme more than others. While the varying size of each industry means the wage bills are dramatically different from sector to sector, it does provide insight as to which areas of employment currently offer the best chance of a new job and greater job security.

This is something that should change from month to month as we see a degree of normality return and there have already been promising signs for many with the reopening of the property market, in particular.

We should hopefully see other sectors begin to follow suit in the coming months and the number of furloughed workers reduce as a result. However, for the time being, it remains a negative but important factor for those looking for a new role, in addition to the traditional draws such as salary and location.”

Industry Percentage of workforce of furlough Total number of workforce on furlough Monthly cost at furlough limit – gross £2,500
Accommodation And Food Service Activities 80% 2,035,728 £5,089,320,000
Wholesale And Retail Trade; Repair Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles 24% 1,177,653 £2,944,132,500
Administrative And Support Service Activities 34% 1,019,424 £2,548,560,000
Construction 37% 833,295 £2,083,237,500
Arts Entertainment And Recreation 78% 802,370 £2,005,925,000
Manufacturing 26% 709,496 £1,773,740,000
Transportation And Storage 35% 630,784 £1,576,960,000
Professional Scientific And Technical Activities 15% 486,328 £1,215,820,000
Human Health And Social Work Activities 8% 376,320 £940,800,000
Education 11% 323,948 £809,870,000
Information And Communication 13% 207,879 £519,697,500
Real Estate Activities 28% 184,140 £460,350,000
Water Supply Sewerage Waste Management And Remediation Activities 11% 26,442 £66,105,000
All Industries 30% 10,677,936 £26,694,840,000
Data on the percentage of furloughed employees and the number of employees per industry from the Office for National Statistics.


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