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East Midlands Chamber News

Businesses struggling to recruit as region’s unemployment rate now lowest in UK, says East Midlands Chamber

The East Midlands’ unemployment rate has dropped to a fresh record low of 2.5% – now the lowest in the country.

For the period between March and May 2022, it was 1.3% below the national average, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest regional labour market figures published today (19 July).

At the same time, the region’s economic inactivity rate – which measures the proportion of 16 to 64-year-olds who have exited the labour market for reasons such as retirement, caring duties, long-term ill health or studying – fell by a percentage point to 21.2%, having climbed for four consecutive months previously.

East Midlands Chamber director of policy and external affairs Chris Hobson said: “These latest statistics show that our region’s businesses are creating plenty of jobs and people are filling them. We said throughout the pandemic that firms in sectors most directly affected by restrictions remained viable once they were allowed to trade freely and the data proves this is the case.

“One of the biggest concerns in recent months has been the rising economic inactivity rate. This reflects trends in which many workers have left the labour force for reasons such as early retirement – particularly in industries such as manufacturing, engineering and construction, where there is also a lack of skilled workers to replace them – and we needed to do more to entice them back.

“It looks like more people are entering the workforce now but businesses are still telling us they are struggling with recruitment. Two-thirds (66%) of companies attempted to take on new staff in the second quarter of the year but 82% of these struggled to find people, according to our latest Quarterly Economic Survey.

“Four in 10 businesses also told us they are now at full capacity, which strongly suggests they need staff to meet the high demand that is driving inflation.

“We therefore need to find ways of attracting new talent, both at home and from overseas, in a suite of support from Government that also encourages businesses to invest in their infrastructure and people. Our research shows investment intentions are down by 6% compared to the previous quarter for plant and machinery and down by 3% for training.

“Turning this around would go a long way to making the productivity gains that will begin to release the handbrake on our economy and tackle some of the inflationary pressures hampering us on our road to recovery.”

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