The number of people in employment increased by 103,000 in the final three months of 2014.
This growth was slower than that seen earlier in 2014, suggesting that the economy is getting closer to a post-crisis steady state. The employment rate crept up slightly to 73.2%.
As in recent months, it’s the fact that more and more people are working for an employer, rather than self-employment, that has driven the pick-up. Even more encouragingly, the vast majority of these employees (87%) moved into full-time positions.
The additional number of people working for an employer more than offset a fall in the number of self-employed. Indeed, the number of people working for themselves fell by 19,000 in the three months to December.
Women have continued to benefit more than men from the increase in employment. In the three months to December 2014, 65,000 more women were in work compared to 38,000 men.
Whilst unemployment has fallen overall, it remains worryingly high amongst young people. The declines in youth unemployment we’ve seen through much of 2014 have stalled. In the three months to December 2014 the number of young people unemployed remained broadly unchanged, as did the youth unemployment rate at 16.2%.
The total number of people unemployed has continued to decline this quarter, there are now 1.86 million people out of work and looking for work. The unemployment rate has now fallen to 5.7%.
And it is the North and Midlands that are leading the way on employment growth. The West Midlands saw the most substantial increase in the number of people in work, closely followed by the East Midlands and North West. Here in the North East we saw employment growth of more than 20,000, whereas the South East and London saw drops in employment.
Similar to the picture on employment, it was mainly regions in the North and Midlands that saw unemployment fall in the three months to December 2014.
Our region still tops the unemployment rate tables at 8%. This time last year it was 10%. There are undeniable risks to the region with the continued slowdown in Europe and the impact of oil prices on the oil and gas sector.
However, business, like life, is inherently risky and much of this risk applies equally to other regions.
Significant progress has been made over the past 12 months showing the energy, vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit of the region. That’s worth shouting about.
Dianne Sharp, regional director - North East, CBI