British Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak said the figures showed government support programs were working, but job losses were inevitable.
The number of people working in Britain fell by 220,000 during the quarter ending in June, the highest number since 2009, as the coronavirus crisis caused a sharp drop in the number of self-employed, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
The number of self-employed decreased by a record, with older employees being the first, while the number of employees increased.
Job losses are expected to rise as Britain tightens its huge job-saving mechanism that protects employees. The operation of this mechanism is going to stop at the end of October.
British Treasury Secretary Risi Sunak said the figures showed government support programs were working, but job losses were inevitable.
“I have always been clear that we can not protect every job, but through the Job Plan we have drawn up, we have a clear plan to protect, support and create jobs to ensure that no one is left without hope,” said in a statement.
Undersecretary of Health Edward Argar, for his part, said when asked about the data showing the biggest drop in employment in the country since 2009, that the coronavirus was going to have a financial cost anyway.
“We have always known that unfortunately this disease will not only have health costs, but will also have economic costs and I think we see the consequences of that,” he said on Sky News.
The unemployment rate was unexpectedly kept at 3.9%, but this reflects an increase in people who have stopped looking for work and are therefore not considered unemployed, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
In addition about 300.000 people said in June that they were employed, although they remained away from their jobs and were not paid, which also helped keep the rate of unemployment, the ONS said.
Economists polled by Reuters expected the unemployment rate to rise to 4.2%.
Last week the Bank of England forecast that the unemployment rate would reach 7.5% by the end of the year.