Region leads the way with job creation
The West has confirmed its reputation as the best place in the country for tackling unemployment, official figures showed yesterday.
The number of people on the dole in the South West dropped by 18,000 in the latest quarter, to 157,000, the Office for National Statistics said.
The unemployment rate fell by 0.7 per cent in the three months to June, the third highest decrease in the UK. And at 5.8 per cent, the rate is the lowest anywhere, 2.2 points below the UK average – it is 10.4 per cent in the North East, 9.8 per cent in Yorkshire & the Humber and 8.7 per cent in London, even with an Olympics boost.
The ONS says: “The South West has a strong labour market, has continued to perform better than the national average, and has shown significant improvement this quarter.”
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The number of people with jobs was up 28,000 to 2.54 million, which is 41,000 more than this time last year, while the claimant count was down
100 last month. That leaves the rate of those on benefits at 3.3 per cent, the second lowest in the UK, although it is 4,400 higher than in July 2011.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling has told the Western Daily Press the West has a strong and committed business sector, while tourism was resilient despite poor weather.
“The South West has a mixed economy, with some good business centres like Bristol, and the tourist sector – I think the region has a lot going for it.”
Nationally, unemployment fell to its lowest level for a year after a big jump in the number of people in work.
The jobless total fell by 46,000 in the quarter to June to 2.56 million, reflecting a trend seen in the last few months and an unemployment rate of eight per cent, while almost 30 million were in work, a rise of 201,000. Other data shows that the number of part-time workers reached a record high of 8.07 million.
And while the figures give hope to the young – youth unemployment fell by 4,000 to just over a million – Age UK said there is disturbing news for older women because it is the only group not seeing a fall in unemployment.
Analysts said the figures are “almost impossible” to explain, while union leaders warned that dole queues could start rising again.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said they were positive and encouraging figures.
They showed despite the difficult economic times, the private sector was still creating jobs, with the vast majority full-time.
But Labour spokesman Liam Byrne said: “Long-term unemployment is still going through the roof and part-time work has hit an all-time high as people struggle to find a full-time job.” And Unison boss Dave Prentis said: “This small fall is welcome but there will be no lasting Olympics legacy in the jobs market.”