LONDON (Reuters) – People in Britain continued to gradually return to their workplaces in late August, something Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to speed up in September to help the economy recover from its historic coronavirus slump.
Fifty-seven percent of working adults traveled to work between Aug. 26 and Aug. 30, up from 55% two weeks earlier and 33% in May, the country’s statistics office said on Thursday.
Those working exclusively from home slipped to 20% from 22%, the Office for National Statistics said. That figure stood at
nearly 40% in June.
Johnson has urged more people to get back to their workplaces as schools across Britain reopen after the summer holidays.
Last week, one of the country’s business leaders said big urban centres looked like ghost towns, putting at risk swathes of companies which cater to commuter workers.
The ONS said footfall in retail areas hit more than 75% of its level a year earlier in the week starting Aug. 24, largely driven by people returning to high streets.
Counts of cars, pedestrians and cyclists in London and the north east of England returned to around pre-lockdown levels.
However, there was a reminder that Britain is facing higher unemployment as the government winds down its job retention scheme – online job adverts remained around 55% of their 2019 average for a fourth consecutive week, the ONS said.
Separately, a survey published by the Bank of England showed companies expect the hit to sales and employment from the pandemic to last well into next year.”
The Decision Maker Panel survey, conducted between Aug. 7 and Aug. 21, also found the share of employees on furlough fell to 12% in August from 18% in July and a peak of 36% in April.
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce and Toby Chopra)