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East Midlands sees reversal of fortune in employment

Posted on August 16th, 2017

Unemployment nationally is at its lowest rate since 1975, according to official figures released this morning, but the East Midlands has seen a reversal of fortune.

And according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in work nationally is at the highest level since records began in 1971.

The record figures have been driven by increases in the number of people in secure work – over 75% of the increase in employment over the past seven years has been in full-time work – according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

There are now 338,000 more people in work compared to this time last year, the Government said, with much of the increase attributed to “workers recruited to higher-skilled positions”.

But the figures are not supported by data for the East Midlands where the number of people in work has fallen when compared to three months, a year and two years ago.

Last month, the unemployment rate for the region was 3.94%, well below the national figure of 4.5%.

In the three months to the end of June, the latest data available, unemployment in the East Midlands was 3.99% - still better than the national average of 4.4%, but the figures are closing.

Employment in the region has seen a decline, falling from 60.11% to 58.83% compared to three months ago – down from 2,280,213 at the end of March to 2,234,808 at the end of June.

Over the same period, though, the number of people registered as out of work fell from 93,534 to 92,899 and the claimant count – the number of people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire - fell from 32,245 in June to 32,125 in July.

Scott Knowles
Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at the Chamber, said: “In our last Quarterly Economic Survey, two-thirds of respondents told us they were trying to recruit and two-thirds of them said they were struggling to find suitable candidates for management and higher-skilled positions, which would appear to contradict what Government is saying this morning.

“Local figures would seem to suggest that inflationary pressures, which had not previously significantly manifested themselves, are now beginning to be felt in the East Midlands.

“Rises in the National Living Wage, which send wage-inflation ripples up through pay scales, is making employers think more carefully about recruiting.

“And the drop in value of sterling compared with other currencies has driven up the cost of imported raw materials which manufacturers – and the East Midlands is the spine of manufacturing in the UK – are having to find ways of absorbing.

“This morning’s figures have not come as any great surprise but they do suggest that more needs to be done to aid job creation in the East Midlands, to encourage the creation of sustainable businesses and to help regional employers manage inflationary pressures.

“This region has long been a bellwether for UK plc - indeed it was described as such by the Governor of the Bank of England, Dr Mark Carney – and if the East Midlands is seeing a reversal of fortune today then there is a very serious threat that the rest of the country could suffer something similar tomorrow.”

claimant count July 2017

employment july 2017