Union leaders claim a drop in unemployment figures in the North East are masking more serious problems.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday released its latest employment figures which revealed a fall of 3,000 in unemployment in the three months to October.
The figures were welcomed by the Government and the CBI.
But the figure is still 9,000 higher than a year ago and critics said it does not address a rise in female unemployment in the region from last year.
Northern TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said the figures actually masked some far more distressing figures.
“For most, the headline figure from the ONS figures will be the 3,000 drop in the unemployment figures, but unfortunately, this disguises a far uglier truth,” she said.
“Whilst male unemployment dropped by 7,000, female unemployment in our region actually rose by 4,000. In the same period last year there were 47,000 female job seekers – that figure now stands at 62,000 – a staggering 32% increase in the last 12 months.
“These figures once again highlight the impact of indiscriminate public spending cuts. With more cuts still to come women will continue to bear the brunt of austerity, with their jobs, services and support systems. This is a travesty in twenty-first century Britain. An unequal ‘recovery’ is no recovery at all.”
Clare Williams, Unison regional convernor, also agreed and argued that the Government’s austerity measures were hitting the North East harder due to the higher percentage of those employed by the public sector.
“We have seen a lot of public sector jobs going and the majority are women because the make up of public sector has a majority of women in the overall workforce,” she said.
“Therefore because of the level of job cuts we are seeing more women losing their jobs and being impacted more significantly.
“There’s also a hidden thing where there’s a significant rise in under-employment. Although overall number of unemployed may have dropped, a lot of people have had to take part-time work – but in reality want and need full-time work,” she said.
Ms Williams said this meant although the figures may show people in work, it did not reveal a rise in the number of people experiencing in-work poverty due to part-time wages not covering all their bills.
“They are not earning enough money to financially be able to manage what with cost of living increasing,” she added.
She said although a drop in unemployment was good news, the figures did not show the whole picture.
However, the Government were positive about the figures which revealed national unemployment fell by almost 100,000 and the number of people in work topped 30 million for the first time on record.
In the North East the ONS figures showed that a total of 133,000 people were unemployed between August and October. The region’s unemployment rate was 10.1% and saw a fall of 2.2% during the period.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “It is really encouraging news that the number of people in jobs has increased by a quarter of a million in the last three months, bringing the total number of people in work to a record-breaking 30 million. Together with a big fall in unemployment, this shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work is proving successful.
“It’s also thanks to British businesses up and down the country who are feeling increasingly confident about taking on workers. This is a great sign that the economy is growing.”
Neil Carberry, CBI Director of Employment and Skills, said: “The stronger economic growth we have seen recently seems to be increasing the speed of job creation.
“With employment rising in almost all regions, led by full-time jobs and across most sectors, real progress is being made. Our own employment survey shows this positive trend looks set to continue, with more than half of firms expecting to create new jobs next year, including more graduate and apprenticeship opportunities.”
The jobless total fell by 99,000 in the quarter to October, the biggest cut in over a decade, to 2.39 million, giving a rate of 7.4%, the lowest for over four years. Private sector employment reached a record high of 24.4 million, and long-term and youth unemployment also fell.
But 1.47 million people were in part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work, the highest total since records began in 1992.