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East Midlands Chamber News

Regional unemployment better than national picture

The number of people out of work in the East Midlands continues to be lower than the national average.

But figures released this morning by the Office for National Statistics confirms continuing uncertainty when it comes to recruitment.

Data collected by the Chamber in its quarterly economic survey for the last three months of 2017 showed that firms were having difficulty recruiting people with relevant skills at all levels.

Six-out-of-ten survey respondents said they’d had tried to recruit, with 58% of them saying they had struggled to find suitable candidates.

In the survey, over a third (36%) of respondents said they had recruited staff during the previous three months compared with just ten per cent that said they’d reduced their workforce.

The ONS figures released this morning show that the number of people in employment in the region increased in the three months to the end of December 2017 from 2,236,663 to 2,279,121, up 42,458 compared with the three months to the end of September.

The regional employment rate stood at 59.8% for the period, one per cent higher than the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate was slightly up quarter-on-quarter, rising from 4.0% to 4.1%, but was still better than a year earlier when it was 4.7%. The national figure was 4.4%, 0.4% better than a year ago.

The reason that both employed and unemployed figures have risen is due to an increase in the number of people seeking to be economically active and either joining or returning to the workforce.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in January across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire was 1,440 higher than in December 2017, up from 33,040 to 31,885.

Scott KnowlesScott Knowles, Chief Executive at the Chamber, said: “Last month’s figures were more positive than we’d expected, with parts of the region showing a fall in the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants when all the evidence and predictions suggested the figures would rise, as they had the month before.

“Given the uncertainty over Brexit and the political upheaval over the past two years, today’s figures come as no real surprise.

“Businesses are facing considerable uncertainty over Brexit, inflationary pressures resulting from fluctuations in the value of the pound on global markets and are shouldering increasing costs resulting from well-intentioned but not necessarily well implemented legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act, pension auto-enrolment, rising business rates, rising costs of imported raw materials and above-inflation increases in minimum wages.

“For many firms, the added financial burdens come down to a simple choice between increasing prices to their customers and not replacing staff when they leave.

“It is essential Government recognises that business cannot continue to bear the cost of constant additional regulatory burdens and that steps are taken as soon as possible to offer employers the reassurances they need to give them the confidence to invest in plant, machinery, training and recruitment.”

Claimant count
employment figures table

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