More Wearsiders are out of work compared to a year ago, despite figures across the region hitting a near high.
While the employment rate across the North East stands at 1.2million and joblessness remains at an 11-year low, the latest statistics show 5,620 people were out of work last month - an increase of 595 compared to December 2015.
What is encouraging in the data is the number of people finding employment in ’better’ jobs – managerial, professional and technical personnel – has grown and then held firm in the latter half of 2016.Richard Baker
The Department for Work and Pensions has said the reason for the change is down to the fact Christmas recruitment began earlier in 2015, as well as the rise and fall in the cycle of employment.
A series of projects are under way alongside companies, including myth busting sessions about what it is like to work in a contact centre in conjuction with Doxford Park-based Parseq, while companies who head up some of the North East’s attractions, such as Alnwick Garden, and holiday parks, such as Haggerston Castle, are beginning to draft in workers for later in the year.
Jobcentre Plus has also been working with B&M to take on 30 new workers at its relocated store at Pallion Retail Park, while the organisation went in to support BHS workers who lost their jobs when the firm went into liquidation.
Marston’s, which will launch a pub at Dalton Park in Murton, is also beginning to look at filling jobs it will create once it is built.
Steve McCall, employer relationship manager for Jobcentre Plus, said: “The figures will bump up and down year on year because of a number of factors, and one of those which has been noticeable from these figures is that Christmas recruitment began later last year.
“We will also begin to see a difference in figures because of Universal Credit, so we are now starting to see people we wouldn’t have seen before.
“People on housing benefit and working tax credit, they will now come under our wing, and we will try and help them, for example if they’re part-time, to get more hours.”
He added recruitment was still ongoing at Nissan and the companies which supply its North East plant, and Go North East, which is taking on 250 more drivers.
Employment Minister, Damian Hinds, said: “We start the new year with another encouraging set of figures. “Employment continues to run at a near-record high, unemployment remains at an 11-year low and both figures are stronger than this time last year – highlighting the strength and resilience of our labour market as we step up to the challenges of 2017.”
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s head of strategy and policy Richard Baker said: “What is encouraging in the data is the number of people finding employment in ’better’ jobs – managerial, professional and technical personnel – has grown and then held firm in the latter half of 2016.
“This number is ahead of the target set out in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan for the North East, and is key to helping raise our economic performance and long term competitiveness.”