South West sees fall of 1,000 in jobless total
Unemployment in the South West has fallen by 1,000 in the three months to July.
The number of people out of work in the region between May and July was 167,000, which is a 6.2 per cent unemployment rate, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
On a national scale, unemployment fell by 24,000 to nudge the jobless rate lower, but the number of part-time workers surged to a record high. ONS data showed unemployment fell to 2.49 million, driving the unemployment rate to 7.7 per cent from 7.8 per cent.
The rate has taken on new significance because it is tied to the Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s new forward guidance policy.
Thinking of buying a new computer for Christmas?
Save 10% on all Windows 7 Custom Built Desktop Computer Packages. Gaming PC's, Media Centres & More!!
Windows Desktops Only, Purchased before 12/12/13.
Package Includes Tower, Screen, Keyboard & Mouse.
Domestic Customers Only
Contact: 0845 0177033
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
The bank has said it will not consider raising rates from their record low until the unemployment rate falls to seven per cent – which it forecasts will take around three years, barring a spike in inflation.
The so-called claimant count – the number claiming jobseeker’s allowance – fell in August by 32,600 from July to 1.4 million. July’s claimant count was also revised lower, and the combined 68,900 fall in claimants in July and August was the biggest two-month drop since June 1997.
But the continued squeeze on household incomes was highlighted by a 1.1 per cent increase in average weekly earnings between May and July versus a year earlier. That continues to lag inflation, which is running at 2.8 per cent.
The number of people working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job has surged to 1.45 million – the highest since records began in 1992.
Martin Beck, of consultancy Capital Economics, said the economic recovery was making its presence felt in the jobs market, although he doubts it will significantly increase the chances of interest rates rising sooner rather than later.
He added: “Evidence from the recent activity surveys suggests that firms are responding to higher demand more by boosting productivity than taking on new workers.”
Regional figures highlight a north-south divide in the jobs market, with areas such as the North East and North West continuing to see higher levels of unemployment – up 5,000 and 13,000 respectively compared with the previous quarter.
In contrast, there were declines of 29,000 in the South East and 7,000 in London. Unemployment also fell in the East Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the South West.
The ONS said the number of people in work increased by 80,000 in the quarter to July, rising to 29.84 million, hitting another record high as the population continues to swell.
Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, said: “This is a really encouraging set of figures, with the number of people in work rocketing by 80,000 in only three months – a rise driven entirely by a growth in full-time jobs.”
For Labour, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said that while the fall in the headline unemployment was welcome, underlying problems remained.