The hospitality sector has 355,000 fewer employees in March 2021, than one year previously – 43% of the total decline in paid employees, according to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS figures shows the number of people in paid employment dropped 813,000 between March 2020 and March 2021, with four in five of those jobs lost by people under the age of 35.

UKHospitality has said the latest data shows how the hospitality sector has continued to be disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality said: “Today’s figures convey the current fragility of hospitality but also the sector’s importance to national economic recovery.

“Once again, the increase in unemployment, particularly among younger age groups, underlines the importance of the Government to stick to their commitment to drop Covid restrictions from 21 June, and for continued support for the sector.

Nicholls said that should the 21 June date lapse, employer furlough contributions could also tip businesses over the edge. “Additional support for jobs, coupled with longer-term plans for training, are vital,” she added.