Unemployment falls in North East as region weathers worst of coronavirus storm

The North East has lost its unwanted title of being the UK’s unemployment blackspot after a second month of falling joblessness numbers.

Unemployment in the three months up to November stood at 6.4%, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed. A total of 117,815 were claiming unemployment benefits, still a major leap from the start of the pandemic.

A huge increase in unemployment in London saw the capital top the joblessness numbers, though the North East is still well above the national average of 5%.

The figures capture the period before current national lockdown and there are fears that the unemployment rate – though well above pre-pandemic figures – is being masked by the Government’s furlough and other business support schemes.

Commenting on the national unemployment figures, ONS head of economic statistics Sam Beckett said: “The latest monthly tax figures show that there were over 800,000 fewer employees on payroll in December than last February.

“More detailed data, published for the first time, show that parts of London have seen the steepest percentage falls, followed by north-eastern Scotland.

“In the three months to November, on our survey data, the employment rate fell sharply again, while the unemployment rate rose to hit 5% for the first time in over four years.

“The number of people saying they had been made redundant in the previous three months remains at a record high.

“Meanwhile vacancies, which were rising in summer and early autumn, have been falling in the last couple of months.”

There was bad news for the North East with Hartlepool now having the highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.1%.

The ONS figures also show that there are 23,000 fewer jobs on company payrolls in the region than a year earlier.

Employment Minister Mims Davies said: “These figures show many people are still facing difficult times, but our support is helping keep millions of workers on payrolls across the country.

“Whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel with jabs already in the arms of millions and the vaccine rollout gathering pace, our Plan for Jobs is helping to protect and support livelihoods, as well as create new opportunities for those who need them.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland