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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber responds to latest employment figures

New figures published this morning showed that more than 600,000 jobs across the UK were lost between March and May, as the coronavirus crisis continued to take hold of the economy.

Although the data for the same period for the East Midlands isn’t yet available, the latest figures, for February to April, showed that there was no increase in employment across the region, but a small decrease (of 1,000) in the amount of people unemployed.

Separate figures, however, showed that the number of people across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire claiming unemployment benefits shot up by 23,825 to 116,790 between April and May.

And figures released last week showed that almost 560,000 job roles had been furloughed by employers in the East Midlands, with 124,600 in Derby and Derbyshire, 129,700 in Leicester and Leicestershire and 126,300 in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said:

“The national figures make for more grim reading and provide further evidence of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the economy. We’d expect the regional figures to follow suit once they are published.

“The large number of workers furloughed during this period is likely to mask the true extent of the impact of lockdown, as the number of jobs at risk due to economic inactivity will be much greater than the figures released today show.

“While it’s good to see that certain business sectors, including retail, have been allowed to reopen this week, the restart of the economy, where it is safe to do so, must quicken in pace.

“Proactive steps must be taken to support businesses in transitioning furloughed staff back into the workplace as quickly as possible. And as some businesses – including those in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors – may remain closed for some time, more flexible and open-ended Government support will be required to help them weather the economic storm.

“Further action will also be needed to limit the long-term economic damage and kickstart a recovery, including closing gaps in Government support and providing incentives to help stimulate consumer demand and business investment.”