More than 33,000 people across the north-east were on furlough at the start of this year, new statistics have shown.
Data released by HM Revenue and Customs has shown that provisional data for January 31, the most recent available, there were 33,400 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire who had their employments furloughed.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides funding to employers towards wages for employees who cannot work due to coronavirus restrictions.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced it would be extended to September earlier this month.
It is changing from July, with 70% of wages up to £2,187.50 to be paid, and from August, 60% of wages up to £1,875 will be paid.
In Aberdeen, on January 31, there were around 16,700 people furloughed, with around 8,300 of those recorded as female, and 8,400 as male.
Across the city, there is an estimated 104,700 employments eligible for furlough, making the total take-up of the scheme at the end of January 16%.
This is an increase of take up on the previous month, as there were around 12,800 people on furlough at December 31, 2020, or a take up of 12%.
Of those, 6,300 were recorded as female, and 6,500 were male.
A slightly lower level of take-up was recorded in Aberdeenshire.
At the end of January, there were also around 16,700 employments furloughed in Aberdeenshire.
A total of 120,600 employments in the region are eligible for furlough, bringing the take up at the end of January to 14%.
Of those benefitting under the scheme, 8,600 were recorded as female, while 8,100 were male.
This is also an increase on the previous month, as there were 11,800 people furloughed on December 31 – 10% take-up rate.
Of those, 6,300 were registered as female, and 5,700 as male.
MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid welcomed the news.
He said: “These latest figures from HMRC are a testament to the unwavering support the UK Government has provided to local jobs across Banff and Buchan and the north-east.
“The strength of the UK Treasury in supporting families, communities, businesses and jobs across Scotland is clear to see, not least in Banff and Buchan where some 5,500 jobs are still being directly supported by the job retention scheme and a total of 15,000 local jobs have been supported in Banff and Buchan since the pandemic hit.
“These figures also show the flexibility of the system in place as more jobs have been furloughed since December 2020 when we re-entered lockdown.
“In tandem with the fantastic and world-leading vaccine roll-out, the UK Government continues to support our economy and communities towards recovery.”
Across Scotland, at the end of January the highest volume of furloughed employments was recorded in the accommodation and food services industry, with 91,400 people falling into this category.
A total of 70,100 people fall under wholesale and retail including the repair of motor vehicles, 26,800 people come under arts, entertainment and recreation while a further 25,100 people under the construction bracket have been furloughed.
There was 362,000 across Scotland on the scheme at the end of the month – 15% of those eligible.