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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands unemployment rate is falling at joint-fastest level in UK regions: Chamber reaction

The East Midlands jobs market is picking up faster than just about every region in the country, according to the latest Government figures.

Between January and March this year, the region’s unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over was 4.9% – a 1% decrease on the previous three-month snapshot from October to December 2020.

This trend is well above the -0.3% change to the national unemployment rate and the joint-fastest decrease in people out of work proportionally alongside the North East.

The total figure reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is one-tenth of a percentage point above the 4.8% UK average, which fell from 4.9% in the previous quarter.

In the February to April 2021 period, the number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 97,000 on the previous quarter, while job vacancies rose by 48,400 – although these figures remain 772,000 and 128,000 lower, respectively, than the pre-pandemic levels from January to March 2020.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “The decline in the unemployment rate and the rise in payroll employment is further confirmation that the East Midlands jobs market is now more resilient to the ongoing restrictions.

“Continued Government support and the easing of restrictions as the UK moved to step two of its roadmap helped drive higher payroll employment in April.

“The rise in the number of job vacancies points to an encouraging upturn in demand for labour amid the gradual reopening of the economy and the strong vaccine rollout.

“With business confidence higher than at any point in the pandemic, companies are gearing up to capitalise on a full reopening of the economy and restarting pre-Covid projects that had stalled, both of which demand more resources.

“For large periods of the pandemic, the East Midlands has borne the brunt of lockdown restrictions as our economy is well represented by many of the industries that have shut down, including hospitality, tourism and retail.

“As these industries reopen, we’ll see more people returning to jobs, while the region can also capitalise on a broader marketplace for jobseekers who will no longer be constrained by immediate geography in a future agile working environment.

Quarterly Economic Survey shows East Midlands businesses are willing to recruit again

“Our most recent Quarterly Economic Survey for Q1 2021, which received a record 539 responses from East Midlands businesses between 15 February and 8 March, showed that while a net 2%* of firms decreased headcount over the previous three months, a net 26% expected to increase their workforce over the following three months.

“With stage three of the roadmap since having commenced alongside a strong vaccine rollout, we can expect to see recruitment intentions speed up over the coming months – with the unemployment rate falling further as a result.

“UK unemployment remains on track to peak at a much lower level than in recent recessions. However, the Government must be prepared to intervene further in the jobs market if necessary as the squeeze on business cashflow from any marked delay to the planned full reopening of the economy may trigger renewed job losses, particularly when furlough becomes less generous over the summer.”

For the regional breakdown of the ONS labour market statistics, click here.

 

East Midlands Chamber's next Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2021 is now live. To take part, click here.

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