North East unemployment falls new figures show

Unemployment in the North East fell by 2,000 in the three months to August, official figures have revealed

A person walking past a job centre

Unemployment in the North East fell by 2,000 in the three months to August, official figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 133,000 people were unemployed in the region between June and August - a fall of 2,000 on the previous period.

The region’s unemployment rate was 10.3% and saw a fall of 1.5%, but is still the highest in the country. The biggest rise came in the North West which recorded a 24,000 increase in the number of people without a job.

The number of people in work nationwide has reached a record high of almost 30m after a new fall in unemployment. Just under 2.5m people were out of work in the three months to August, down by 18,000 on the previous three months, while figures showed the biggest monthly fall in jobseeker’s allowance claimants for 16 years.

People classed as economically inactive also fell, by 83,000 to 8.95 million, while job vacancies rose by 6,000 over the latest quarter to 541,000, the highest for five years.

But the new data from the ONS also showed that 1.45 million people were working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

Average earnings growth fell back from 1.2% to 0.7% for the year to August compared with the previous month.

Average weekly earnings in private firms increased by 1.1%, but the annual growth rate in the public sector slumped to minus 0.5%, the lowest since 2001. Fewer people on high pay and more workers on lower pay in the public sector could be behind the figure.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “Today’s figures show a rise in employment of more than a million under this Government, and they show that there are now more people in work than ever before.

“That’s a really positive sign of growth in the UK economy, and a credit to British businesses for creating those jobs. We are not complacent - there’s still work to do - but with more than 500,000 vacancies currently available, and with all the signs being that the economy is turning a corner, we can see that there are opportunities out there for hardworking people who aspire to get on in life.”

But GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “That we have mass unemployment of two-and-a-half million six years into recession shows the human costs caused by the excesses of the bankers.

“Young workers have borne a heavy brunt. It has also taken a toll on the living standards of almost the whole working population.”

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