Walker praises strong economic figures

Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed figures released today by the Office for National Statistics, which indicate that higher skilled roles are driving the joint record-high employment rate of 76.1%, rising wages and over 32 million people in work in the UK- up by over 3.6 million since 2010.

The UK unemployment rate fell again to 3.8%, the lowest level since 1974, with female unemployment falling even further to a record low of 3.7%. 14.8 million are now employed in higher skilled roles, from professional tradespeople to scientists, nurses to accountants – a boost of 2.6 million since 2010, making up over 75% of the growth in employment.

The figures also showed a record proportion of people from ethnic minorities are now in work with the rate sitting at 66.5%. Wage growth also continued its upward trend this month, growing by 3.2% year on year, a 1.3% rise in real terms. Although the local wage growth figures are reported annually rather than monthly, Worcester’s annual figures showed that last year wages rose nearly 4% to £14.13 an hour, up from £11.59 in 2010.

Despite positive indicators, Robin is concerned that Worcester’s jobless figure showed a slight increase in April, with 1,525 claimants compared to 1,430 in March. Even after this small increase, the local overall unemployment rate has fallen by 48% since Robin was first elected MP in 2010, when joblessness stood at 2,545.

Robin was encouraged to meet with three Worcestershire apprenticeship employers Aeromet, Borwell and Qinetiq, and young apprentices at the ADS annual Parliamentary Apprenticeship Reception at Westminster on Tuesday evening, showing the success the apprenticeship program has made in the local community.

In more detailed figures posted along with the national statistics, Robin also welcomed a number of positive announcements, which included: the number of women in work being at a record high of 15.42 million, this is an increase of over 1.79 million more women in work than in 2010; an increase in the Personal Allowance – the amount earned before an individual must start paying income tax – to £12,500;  and the average weekly earnings for employees increased by 3.3 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Robin was also pleased that almost 1 million (947,000) more disabled people are in work since 2014, as the barriers to employment facing disabled people are being broken down. As a backbencher, Robin was a Disability Confident Champion and held a Disability Confident job fair in Worcester to help more people with disabilities into work and was extremely pleased to see this reflected in the ONS figures.

Speaking on the recent figures, Robin said:

“I am pleased to see such strong national figures and to see Worcester continuing to outperform the national picture both in terms of wage growth and employment.”

“I welcome the recent announcement that national wages have increased by 3.3%. The average hourly rate in Worcester was £14.13 at the end of last year having risen at an even faster rate. I am pleased that the National Living Wage is rising to £8.21 per hour which will be a substantial boost to the lower paid; this compares to £5.80 when we came to office.”

“I am also pleased that Worcester continues to maintain consistently low unemployment rates, well below the national and regional averages. Despite a small increase in the unemployment figures over the last few months they have consistently been below 2.5%, compared to 4% when I first became an MP.”

Minister of State for Employment Alok Sharma said:

“Maintaining our record employment rate with unemployment falling again to just 3.8%, its lowest rate since 1974, once again shows the success of our balanced approach to managing the economy.”

“Rising wages and higher-skilled employment means better prospects for thousands of families, and with youth unemployment halving since 2010, we are creating opportunities for all generations.”

“We now need to shift some of our focus to upskilling people and supporting them into roles with real career progression to create a modern workforce fit for the challenges of the 21st century.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For the latest employment statistics for Worcester, please see:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/reports/lmp/wpca/1929380363/subreports/cca_time_series/report.aspx

For more of Robin’s recent statements on employment, see:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/category/jobs-2/

For more information on employment, see:

https://www.conservatives.com/sharethefacts/2019/05/jobs