Jobless figures show North East labour market in ‘tentative’ recovery

Unemployment in the North East has started falling again and there continue to be more payrolled employees in the region than before the pandemic, according to figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The region’s jobless rate for May-July was 5.3% compared with the UK average of 4.6%. and down from 5.8% in both previous three-month periods, while the UK figure has fallen more slowly from 4.8% in March-May and 4.7% in April-June.

However, the North East still has the second highest unemployment rate in the UK, behind only London with 6.0%, the second highest economic inactivity rate, behind Northern Ireland, and the second lowest employment rate, ahead of Northern Ireland.

The ONS said: ‘In August 2021, only London, Scotland and the South East had fewer payrolled employees then before the start of the pandemic; London is the furthest behind its pre-pandemic levels but saw the largest increase between July and August’.

Richard Baker, strategy and policy director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) said: ‘We’re now starting to see the shape of the labour market in the region as the economy moves out of Covid-related restrictions and support.

‘The overall picture in today’s figures is of a labour market which is in recovery, but with a changed structure since early 2020. This recovery is tentative, with other data showing a slow-down in recent growth, the influence of other factors such as skills shortages in a number of sectors, and the need for support for workers to adapt to the changing demands of the labour market. There is some way to go to return to the pre-pandemic position’.

He added: ‘This data shows that there are opportunities to drive forward, but a number of challenges which need ongoing stimulus to the economy and support for individuals and businesses.’