Claimant count falls as employment rate stays flat in region

Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy and campaigns
Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy and campaigns

Figures which showed that employment is at a national high were not reflected in the North East, but the number of people in work did stay level year on year.

The data, released yesterday, shows that 1.1million people are in employment in the region, a fall of 7,000 over the period from June to August and no change on last year.

The UK unemployment rate, for the quarter, fell to a seven-year low of 5.4 per cent, but the the rate was highest in the North East (109,000 or 8.6 per cent) – a rise of 12,000 over the quarter, but a fall of 10,000 over the year.

The North East also has the lowest employment rate of all the English regions – 68.8 per cent.

However, the claimant count has continued its downward trend in the North East and in Northumberland, there were 4,195 claimants, a drop of 861 compared to this time last year.

North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy and campaigns, Jonathan Walker, said: “We had recently picked up a softening in hiring intentions so it is disappointing, although not surprising, to see the North East is the only English region to see such a negative change in its employment rate. We believe these figures can be attributed to a combination of factors including a slowdown in the oil and gas markets and a fall in public-sector jobs, which our region is particularly exposed to.”

A spokeswoman for JobCentre Plus said that there was a lot of work going on in Northumberland and the North East to support the major retailers in hiring extra staff for the Christmas period.