The labour market in the North East continued to strengthen over the last three months, with record numbers of people both economically active and in work, according to figures today from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The unemployment rate in the region (Tees Valley included) in the April-June period of 4.2% was unchanged compared with January-March but the UK rate rose by 0.3%, also to 4.2%.
And unemployment is now higher in the North West (4.3%), the West Midlands (5.2%), the East (4.4%), London (5.1%) and Wales (4.8%) than in the North East.
Over the same three months the regional economic inactivity rate – people not in work and not looking for work – fell by 1% to 21.9%. This was the sharpest fall apart from the West Midlands (-1.2%) and Wales (-1.3%) and compares with a UK average fall of -0.1% to 20.9%.
Meanwhile the employment rate in the region rose by 1%, the biggest increase apart from Wales (1.2%), bringing the regional rate to 74.7%.The national average fell by 0.1%, but is still on 75.7%, which is above the regional rate.
The regional economic inactivity rate is thus lower and the regional employment rate higher than they have been since the current data set started in 1992. There are 1,262,000 people in work in the region compared with 1,202,000 a year ago and 357,000 economically inactive compared with 405,000.
North East Chamber
Callum George, of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said the ONS figures showed that regional employment and economic inactivity rates continued to move in a positive direction though, that said, gaps remained between the rest of the UK and the region.
“As a Chamber, we know that recruitment difficulties are still at the heart of many businesses’ issues,” he added.
“Our most recent quarterly economic survey…released last month shows that businesses are once again becoming more concerned about their workforce. This serves as a reminder that – despite the North East’s labour market being in a significantly better place than last year – employers still face real challenges driven by economic inactivity.
“The ONS reports that, nationally, significant sources of inactive people coming back into work are those who have been looking after their family or household. Despite the reduction in inactivity rates, the ONS reports that those out of work due to long-term ill health are at record highs. When you consider this, it emphasises the need for a compassionate and supportive approach to re-introducing people to the world of work.
“Ahead of Chancellor Hunt’s Autumn Statement, we are in the process of working with our members to gain a deeper understanding into challenges that employers are facing, including recruitment. In the coming months we’ll be sharing pragmatic, yet necessary, recommendations for the Autumn Statement that serve the interests of businesses and people that call the North East home.”
North East Local Enterprise Partnership
Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), said the regional jobs market had made “incredible progress” over the past year:
“But we know there are still issues to address. Employment among male workers aged 25 to 34 and 50 to 64 decreased over the year, there has been a continued increase in long term sickness, and last week’s publication of the Local Skill Improvement Plan for North of Tyne tells us there are still skills gaps which need addressing.
“The improvement we’ve seen is testament to North East businesses, who continue to create jobs in the face of difficult economic conditions. For our part, we at the North East LEP remain committed to supporting the creation of more and better jobs in the region, and we’ll be working to make sure improvements are felt across the region, that the voice of business is heard as we prepare for greater devolution in the North East, and that the region’s firms have the best possible environment in which to thrive.”
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