COVID Briefs Building back better: post-pandemic city governance

How is Covid-19 affecting urban labour markets? The UK’s experience

Elena Magrini

Senior Analyst, Centre for Cities, UK

Labour markets across Europe today look very different to how they did at the beginning of 2020. As well as posing significant threats to our health, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the economy, and mil- lions of people have been left fearing for their jobs. As many European countries experience a second spike in cases, this briefing looks at the impact of COVID- 19 on urban labour markets during the first lockdown, using the UK as a case study. It finds that places with weaker economies have overall seen the largest increases in unemployment since March, but also that some otherwise strongly performing places have been affected, due to the very specific sectoral nature of the crisis. Looking forward, the briefing highlights how places whose export bases have been affected the most by the pandemic will take longer to recover, while observing that readjustments are likely to occur in every economy. Finally, the briefing outlines the work cities can do to support people and protect jobs in their local labour markets, even if they lack formal powers in this field, by using their leadership and soft powers both on the national stage and at the local level.

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