ONS data shows both unemployment and employment are down— so where are our workers?

UNEMPLOYEMENT in the North East continues to decline but so does employment, according to the latest data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, released today, show the North East’s decline in unemployment rate over the last year has been larger than any other region, with a decrease of 1.5 percentage points.

The area has a lower unemployment rate than the North West, West Midlands and London.

Northern Ireland followed closely at 1.3 percentage points, and the largest increase in the unemployment rate were the South East and the North West, both with an increase of 0.5 percentage points.

Between May and July this year, employment rate also fell in the North East.

The region with the lowest employment rate was Northern Ireland at 69.3%, followed by the North East at 70.8%.

The South East had the largest decrease in the rate over the year, of 1.5 percentage points, followed by the North East, at 0.9 percentage points and Scotland at 0.8 percentage points.

This is evidence of a nation-wide trend of increasing numbers of economic inactivity. So where are our workers?

Economic inactivity refers to people who are not in employment but aren’t technically unemployed — this may be because they have not been seeking work within required timeframes or can’t start work within the next two weeks.

In the three-month time scale between May and July this ear, the North East had largest increase in the economic inactivity rate on the previous period at 25.8%, a 2.6 percentage point increase.

This was followed by the East Midlands and the South West, both at an 0.8 percentage point increase.

Across the whole of the UK, economic inactivity rate for people aged 16 to 64 was 21.2% for the period, an increase of 0.3 percentage points compared with the previous period.

Senior economist at North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), who focus on regional growth and development, Victoria Sutherland, said: “We are pleased to see that unemployment continues to decline, with there being 3,000 fewer individuals in the North East that are unemployed than three months ago and 22,000 fewer than a year ago.

“Today’s statistics show that there has also been decline in employment, with 34,000 fewer individuals in employment than three months ago.

“This reflects a broader trend with six of the nine regions across England and Scotland all experiencing declines in employment over this period.

“There has also been an overall decline in employment in the past 12 months, although this has been more modest — 17,000 — as the region had experienced good employment growth earlier in the year.

“With a decline in both unemployment and employment, we have seen an increase in the numbers that are economically inactive. This group includes individuals who are outside the labour market for a wide range of reasons, including full-time study, looking after family and home, disability and ill-health, and retirement.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with partners to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan and its ambition of ‘more and better jobs’ for the region.”

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East LEP
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