Almost half of all UK jobs lost over the past year were in the hospitality sector, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Figures show that in the 12 months to March 2021, the total number of paid employees in the country fell by 813,000.
Hospitality businesses were the worst hit and account for 43% of the national total, losing 355,000 employees over the period.
Just over three quarters (78%) of those leaving the hospitality payroll were under the age of 35, and more than half who have lost jobs were under 25.
Overall four in five people who have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic in March are under the age of 35, and between December and February the number of people in paid employment dropped by a further 56,000 as the country entered another lockdown.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "Today's figures convey the current fragility of hospitality but also the sector's importance to national economic recovery."
She added that the rise in unemployment made it even more vital for hospitality to trade without restrictions on 21 June, the provisional date set out by the government.
"Hospitality businesses' ability to reopen will remain massively hampered until the government can deliver on its commitment to dropping legal requirement of Covid restrictions and measures on 21 June," said Nicholls.
"Even then, with so many companies facing rent debts and business rates bills, after more than a year with little trading, many companies – and thousands more jobs – will be in jeopardy unless further support is forthcoming.
"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."
Image: Drazen Zigic, shutterstock.com