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13 Jun 2023

East Midlands unemployment rate drops to 3.4% but Chamber data warning for future recruitment outlook

The East Midlands’ unemployment rate has dropped once more to 3.4% for the period between February and April 2023, new figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

It fell from 3.7% in the previous reporting period to March – which had been the highest level in 18 months – while it remains below the UK average of 3.8%.

The region’s economic inactivity rate – which measures the number of working-age people who have dropped out of the labour market for reasons such as retirement, caring duties, long-term ill health or studying – increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 21.5%.

East Midlands Chamber research into future recruitment prospects

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “These figures are relatively promising as they suggest the unemployment rate isn’t spiralling upwards after reaching an 18-month peak in the previous set of data.

“Despite the economic challenges being faced by businesses, they continue to display great resilience by pursuing growth opportunities and seeking to recruit, with our own research via the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey showing a net 2% growth in the proportion of East Midlands businesses adding to their headcount in the past three months.

“However, future recruitment prospects are less optimistic, with a net 6% decline for the next three months. With intentions to invest in training also down, this suggests businesses need support from Government to invest in their people, whether that be in upskilling their existing workforce or reskilling prospective employees to fill skills gaps.

“In our Business Manifesto for Growth, we have set out a list of policies we believe will make the required difference, including introducing flexible incentives for businesses that invest in staff training and bringing forward the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement to support retraining and the retainment of an older workforce.

“We must also tailor policies to recognise the diversity of people who are out of work and avoid a one-size-fits-all solution. We would also like to see Government work with businesses to offer support, and share best practice, on what a flexible and inclusive workplace looks like as this is another vital ingredient in enticing people back to work.”

To read the Chamber’s Business Manifesto for Growth, A Centre of Trading Excellence, visit