Over half the workforce in England's county areas work in sectors ‘at risk’ due to the coronavirus crisis, research has warned today.
The report, from Grant Thornton UK LLP for the County Councils Network (CCN), shows 5.9 million employees in county areas work in sectors such as tourism, retail and manufacturing.
Nearly half (46%) of the country’s entire furloughed workforce are in county areas, it also found.
It concludes that county areas are potentially more vulnerable to the economic impact of the virus compared to England’s major cities.
The CCN is calling on the Government to provide counties with devolved powers to protect employment.
Cllr David Williams, chairman of the CCN and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: 'The scale of the economic challenge posed by coronavirus cannot be overstated and today’s research illustrates how exposed county areas are with over half of those areas’ workforces currently in sectors "at risk". We fear a significant number of those furloughed will not have employment to go back to unless we act now.
'There is a real risk the pandemic simply exacerbates the longstanding economic divide between county areas and the major cities, with urban metro mayors having more powers and resources at their disposal to address the impact of coronavirus.'