Worcester’s Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Robin Walker has welcomed another fall in unemployment both locally and nationally in the latest official statistics released today. The official unemployment statistics nationally show the rate of unemployment falling to the lowest level since 1975 and a rising number of full time jobs as well as increasing hours being worked. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 more than 2.7 million new jobs have been created.
Worcester’s figures show a decrease of 30 on the claimant count from March to April and the latest figure standing at 1,005 or 1.5%. This is the 23rd consecutive month in which the rate of unemployment in the city has been 1.6% or lower and it has been below 2% – a figure which the International Labour Organisation defines as full employment for the last two and a half years. When Robin was first elected unemployment in Worcester stood at 2,545 or around 5% and it has fallen by 60% since that time.
Figures for youth unemployment show an even more marked improvement with the number of under 25s on the claimant count at 220 this month compared with 250 one year ago or 710 when Robin became MP, this number has fallen 69% during his time representing the city. Youth unemployment hit an all time high in Worcester under the Labour Government when 805 people under 25 were on the claimant count in the Summer of 2009.
National figures published alongside the jobs figures showed wages growing at 2.4% but Worcestershire has been outperforming the national trend in recent years. Although there are no monthly figures for wage growth the latest figures for pay, published at the end of 2016 showed wages for people living in Worcester overtaking the national average for the first time. ONS data showed that in each of the last two years weekly gross pay in Worcester rose by around £20 or 5% to overtake the national average figure for the first time in a decade. Worcester’s gross weekly pay for full time workers stood at £545.90 at the end of 2016 compared to national average of £541.
Robin has backed programmes such as apprenticeships, the disability confident campaign and employment allowance as well as campaigning for reforms to business rates and lower taxes on business to support local employment. He pointed out that gradual reductions in tax on business have led to higher employment and higher revenues for government from taxation whilst Labour’s plans for an 8% hike in corporation tax would risk jobs and investment.
Commenting on the latest official statistics he said
“I am delighted that in the last set of figures before the General Election we can see Worcester’s economic strength continuing to grow. When I first became MP for Worcester and the city was just beginning to recover from Labour’s terrible recession, I set out to reduce unemployment by half, when that was done I targeted bringing it down to 1,000. That is pretty much where we are now. By international standards we have been enjoying full employment for more than two years, but I am not fully satisfied with that. I would love to achieve the goal of eliminating youth unemployment and I will continue to work with local businesses to see how that can be achieved.”
“I am proud that during my time as MP the number of apprenticeships has doubled but there is still further to go in driving it higher and driving up the quality of apprenticeships alongside the quantity. Worcestershire grew productivity faster than any other part of the country over recent years and that has helped to ensure we see rising pay. With employment at record levels, more full time jobs and higher pay it is hard to argue as Jeremy Corbyn does that we need to reset our economic model. His plans to hike tax on businesses that create jobs would be a disaster for our local economy and at a time when we need Britain and Worcestershire to compete in the world, they would threaten investment in our Country and County. “