Unemployment has gone up in the East Midlands

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Unemployment has increased in the East Midlands according to the latest reports.

The number of people unemployed in the East Midlands increased over the three months to the end of 2016 compared with last year, but remains better than the national average, according to figures released this morning by the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate for October-December 2016 increased by 0.2 per cent to 4.7 per cent, compared to a UK rate of 4.8 per cent. At 75.7 per cent the employment rate in the region remained above the national average of 74.6 per cent.

The rise in unemployment was accompanied by growth in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

In January 2017 there 29,510 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants across the three counties, including the cities of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, compared with 28,240 in December, 31,885 in January 2016 and 38,990 in January 2015.

Average weekly earnings in the East Midlands have risen to £536, up from £526 one year ago.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “While there will be some seasonal factors at play in the figures, it’s no real surprise to see employment rates in the region begin to level off or fall slightly in the last quarter of 2016.

“Businesses are still adapting to recent changes in the value of the pound and the uncertainties that go with it, with many reviewing their strategies for growth, including increasing investments in training existing staff and buying newer equipment to meet changing demand levels.

“Our own survey work tells us that issues remain, for those that are recruiting, in sourcing staff with the right skill levels. According to our Quarterly Economic Survey, of the 56 per cent of our members that tried to recruit in the final quarter of last year, 58 per cent experienced difficulties – and this was seen at all levels within the organisation, from lower-skilled roles through to highly-skilled positions.

“While the economy will eventually balance itself, we are going to see more movement in employment markets in coming months.

“What today’s figures tell us is that we must not be complacent about the strength of our labour market.

“Policy decisions to be made in the coming months in areas such as recruitment from EU countries, the promotion of apprenticeships and technical roles in the workplace – alongside any broader announcements that might dent business confidence – will all have an impact on the shape of our workforce in both the near and long-term future.

“It is imperative that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his budget next month recognises the strengths of regions such as the East Midlands and finds ways to unshackle businesses for growth – the broken business rates system would be a good place to start.”