Claimant count decreases in Northumberland

Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy & campaigns.
Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy & campaigns.

Employment is at near-record levels in the North East, while the claimant count in Northumberland has dropped year-on-year, according to figures released today.

For the period December 2015 to February 2016, almost 1.21million people were in employment in the North East, up 4,000 on the previous quarter and up 21,000 on the previous year. In the same period, economic inactivity had also dropped, by 8,000 on the previous quarter and 9,000 year-on-year, to 392,000.

However, the unemployment rate was up for December to February at 104,000 - a rise of 5,000 year-on-year and 1,000 on the previous period. Meanwhile, the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in March was 48,300 - an increase of 800 on the previous month, but 400 year-on-year.

But in Northumberland, the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in March was down by 100 year-on-year to 4,815, a drop of two per cent. For 18 to 24-year-olds, the claimant count decreased by 125 or nine per cent.

Steve McCall, from Jobcentre Plus, said: “We get fluctuations so we tend to look year-on-year and the trend is still going in the right direction, certainly in terms of the employment figures. There are fluctuations during the time of year that we are looking at. From a Jobcentre Plus point of view, there are still a full range of job opportunities out there in a range of sectors and that’s the main thing for us.”

Referring to Northumberland specifically, he said that there are a number of hospitality and holiday providers who are ramping up recruitment ahead of the summer. He added: “We’ve got the Tall Ships coming to Blyth which may not bring long-term employment, but it will bring volunteering opportunities which help make people more employable.”

There will also be public-sector opportunities shortly across the North East through the NHS as well as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) itself ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit.

Jonathan Walker, head of policy and campaigns at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are encouraged by these numbers as they show our employment level has increased by 4,000 over the last quarter. This reflects the findings of our recent Quarterly Economic Survey results which reported just under a third of companies expected to increase their workforce over the next three months.

“Unemployment levels remain relatively static, but the rate is still far too high compared to the national figure. As part of our desire to drive a working North East, we are committed to bringing business and education together to create career opportunities for young people, which should continue to push our employment figures in the right direction.”