Unemployment has already increased 141 per cent in York as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
And jobseekers face “the toughest labour market in living memory” – according to West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).
A York recruitment expert fears unemployment levels could get even worse by August, when changes to the furlough scheme mean employers pay more.
Young people and those aged over 50 are most affected. Many people in their fifties or older not expected to go back to work, according to a report by the authority.
Clare Hutchison from York’s One to One Recruitment agency said: “I have worked in recruitment for 30 years and been through several recessions. This is by far the worst I have seen.
“At the point in August when employers start contributing more to the furlough scheme, I think it’s going to be horrendous for some business and put a huge strain on their stability.
“Not only will organisations have been forced to reduce overheads and labour costs post furlough, they will have had the opportunity to realise slack too.
“I worry that unemployment in certain sectors is going to be massive towards the end of July and August.
“However, it will pick up and I think we will have a massive bounce back – but nobody can tell when that’s going to happen.”
She said employers will be looking for staff who can do lots of different tasks within a business – such as admin, finance and any PA-related work.
York hit harder
The combined authority report says areas reliant on retail and hospitality have seen the biggest jumps in unemployment. West Yorkshire fares better than York and North Yorkshire.
Job adverts have fallen by more than 60 per cent across the region – and there are now six unemployed people for every vacancy listed.
The authority is working on an economic recovery plan for the region. It says: “Most analysts agree that the initial employment impact would have been significantly higher without the ability to furlough workers.
“While forecasts suggest the unemployment rate could exceed 10 per cent later in 2020, extending the Government’s Job Retention Scheme should help limit the increase.”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said she is “deeply concerned” that the city’s economy will be hit – causing hardship for residents.
She said: “I have long warned that York’s economy needs to be more diverse and investment was needed in securing better, more secure jobs in a range of industries.
“This is why I have supported the Universities and Colleges call for an innovation and skills approach to build a more sustainable economy in core industries like the biotech industry and the digital creative sector, where York could take a significant national lead.”
One to One recruitment is offering support to jobseekers and companies, including help with CVs, job hunting, skills and interviews.
The meeting of the WYCA Inclusive Growth and Public Policy Panel takes place on Monday.