Kathleen Moore

Unemployment in North East has risen by 12,000

Employment figures for the North East have shown a 12,000 rise in unemployment in the region during the last quarter.

The estimates from the Office of National Statistics show that unemployment currently stands at 131,000, or 10%, higher than the national rate of 7.8%.

The figures show that over the last quarter the numbers of those out of work has risen by 12,000, however over the year the figures show an overall drop of 14,000.

Employment in the region has fallen by 18,000 over the quarter standing at 1,166,000 or 67.1%, compared to a national rate of 71.4% nationally.

The claimant count for the North East is currently estimated to be at 91,100 in the North East, a rate of 7.4% compared with 4.6% nationally.

NECC Director of Policy, Ross Smith, said: “It is both surprising and worrying to see the continuing reversal of the trend that had seen strong growth in employment and reduction in unemployment throughout 2012.

“For the third month in a row, employment and unemployment statistics are heading in the wrong direction for the North East.

“It is a similar picture for the rest of the UK, but in the last quarter it has been much more marked here than anywhere else, taking unemployment back above 10%.

“A clear effort must be made to ensure that skills levels are improved to help people back into work.

“These estimates also contradict NECC’s Quarterly Economic Survey, which for the first quarter of 2013 demonstrated another strong score for workforce among members with a large number of companies also reporting increases in sales and orders.

“While public sector job cuts continue and must be taken into account, this is the third month of disappointing figures and it is becoming increasingly difficult to write-off these estimates as a mere blip.

“One positive that can be taken is the decrease in the claimant count, which is now reducing at a faster rate than for the UK as a whole.”

The announcement of the new employment figures has sparked a variety of reactions across the region.

Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC Regional Secretary said: “The 12,000 increase in North East unemployment shows the devastation that George Osborne’s extreme austerity policies are having on our region.

“Ordinary working people and their families simply cannot afford for the Conservative-led government to plough on with a plan that clearly isn’t working.

“Wages are being squeezed, jobs are being destroyed and debt is up.

“Confidence in the Chancellor’s plans is collapsing at home and abroad, with even the IMF warning a new approach is now needed.

“Austerity has failed on every level and the government remains in denial.”

In the wake of this dip in regional employment growth, local institutions are focusing on regenerating job opportunities.

Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said: “Tackling unemployment is a key part of our regeneration agenda and we are working in partnership with local authorities, business, and stakeholders to help generate meaningful job opportunities in sustainable and developing industrial sectors.

“The latest figures are welcome in that they show some slight improvement, but of course one month’s figures are not to be taken as conclusive.

“Needless to say we and our partners will continue to come up with ways to help increase employment opportunities in Tees Valley.”

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