Claimant count rises in Sunderland

Employment in the North East is at a near-record high.
Employment in the North East is at a near-record high.
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The number of people claiming out of work benefits in Sunderland jumped by more than 100 last month.

There were 5,830 people claiming benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance in the city in February, an increase of 135 on January’s figure of 5,695.

Paul Carbert

Paul Carbert

Across the North East, the number of people in employment stands at 1,209,000 or 70.7% - an increase of 1,000 over the quarter and 5,000 over the year - compared to a rate of 74.6% nationally.

The unemployment rate was 88,000 or 6.8% - an increase of 4,000 over the quarter, but a fall of 14,000 over the year.

This compares to a rate of 4.7% nationally.

The number of people claiming out of work benefits was 49,400, or 3.9% in the North East, compared to a national claimant count rate of 2.1%.

With a number of increases in labour costs for employers due to be introduced in April, including the apprenticeship levy, immigration skills charge, and an increase in the national minimum wage, the Government must consider measures to reduce the impact of these rising business costs.

Paul Carbert

North East England Chamber of Commerce policy adviser Paul Carbert said: “The figures released this morning show that the North East labour market ended 2016 in a better position compared to the previous year, with unemployment lower and employment higher.

“With a number of increases in labour costs for employers due to be introduced in April, including the apprenticeship levy, immigration skills charge, and an increase in the national minimum wage, the Government must consider measures to reduce the impact of these rising business costs.

“These expenses will undoubtedly impact on employers’ ability to recruit.

“In order to create a North East where as many people as possible are in work, we have also urged the Government to introduce new funding models.

North of England MEP Jonathan Arnott

North of England MEP Jonathan Arnott

“We want these models to support retraining and upskilling of existing workers to ensure that employers have access to the skills they need.”

The UK unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the summer of 1975, with a record number of people in work, but the jobs boom has also seen a record number of workers on zero-hours contracts in their main job.

Workers on the controversial contracts increased by 101,000 in the last quarter of 2016 to 905,000 compared with the previous year.

North East MEP Jonathan Arnott said: “The North East has been described by the TUC as the UK capital of insecure work, with the equivalent of two-thirds of jobs created in the region in the last five years being without guaranteed pay or normal employment rights.

“People not only need jobs but they need proper job security and legal safeguards.”