Worcester’s newly re-elected MP, Robin Walker, has given a warm welcome to the news that unemployment in Worcester has hit its lowest level since 2005. The fall is a welcome return to trend in the latest figures which reflect unemployment at the end of April, the last set of statistics before the 2015 General Election. The claimant count fell across all key categories, including overall, women, young people and long term claimants.
The MP who put jobs and prosperity at the heart of his election campaign and has served for a number of years on the BIS select Committee has suggested that further improvements are likely in the months to come and set out his belief that Worcester is on course to see its lowest level of both youth and overall unemployment on record.
During the Coalition Government the Conservatives backed employers by scrapping Labour’s plans for a jobs tax, introducing a £2000 employment allowance, giving rates discounts to more small businesses and massively increasing both the quality and number of apprenticeships. This Conservative Government has now set out to abolish youth unemployment and increase apprentice numbers by a further 1 million to 3 million and Robin has set out his vision as part of this that Worcestershire should target 15,000 apprenticeships by 2020.
The latest figures from NOMIS show the overall claimant count in Worcester at 1,178, the lowest figure ever reported on the monthly records, which start in 2006 and a fall of 46 from the previous month. . This represents a fall of 480 from one year ago and 1,367 from April 2010, the last set of figures before Robin became an MP. Unemployment peaked in Worcester at 2,731 in January 2010 and has since fallen by 57% in the city. Quarterly records show that the claimant count was last this low in 2005, when the population of the city was substantially lower.
Youth unemployment is at 300, down 15 on the previous month and 125 on one year ago. The number is the fourth lowest on record as youth unemployment was even lower in November and December 2014 and briefly hit 295 in December 2007 before the last recession. Youth unemployment in Worcester stood at 710 in April 2010 and peaked at 805 in summer 2009, since when it has fallen 63%.
Long term unemployment, with claimants who have been out of work for more than a year, which has been steadily falling in recent months has now fallen to 250, more than halved since October 2013. The figure stood at 400 when Robin became MP but has yet to return to its pre-recession lows, it peaked at 585 in June 2012, since then it has fallen 57%.
At the same time the ONS published figures that showed that earnings had risen 1.9% or 2.2% excluding bonuses, comfortably beating inflation which is currently close to zero. Robin has previously pointed out that as low unemployment and a need for skills has its effect on the jobs market, wages are likely to be driven up.
Commenting on these figures, Robin said:
“It is great news that unemployment continued to fall in the last month of the last Government but I think it sets an even greater challenge to this one to take it down further.”
“We should not be content merely to have undone the damage of the last recession and helped all those left out of work by Labour find work, we need to return with added zeal to find a job for everyone who wants one, to eliminate the threat of youth unemployment and to create more opportunities, apprenticeships, businesses and chances for people.”
“I am very proud to have seen unemployment and youth unemployment more than halved in Worcester and I am confident that with a Conservative Government we can go further. I was particularly delighted to see local man Sajid Javid appointed as Business Secretary and I am looking forward to working with him to ensure more businesses, large and small have opportunities to create jobs in World Class Worcestershire. We need to make sure that help reaches those furthest from the workplace and the opportunity must be taken to reach out to the long term unemployed, help people to retrain and upskill so that they can benefit from the prosperity Britain is seeing.”
“During the election there was much debate about low pay and nobody wants to see anyone working hard and not earning enough to support themselves. I am delighted to see wages rising firmly above inflation and believe that with a strong jobs market and rising skills levels, this is a trend that can continue. We have already seen the minimum wage rise faster than inflation and average earnings in Worcester are the highest they have ever been according to the ONS but I want to see more progress on this front too. The plan to raise the threshold on income tax to £12,500 during the lifetime of this Government and then link it to a rising minimum wage is one that I wholeheartedly back.”
“These numbers are vindication of five years of Conservative led Government and its impact on Worcester. I am excited about the potential to improve on them still further in the years to come. With new businesses investing in Worcester and greater confidence as a result of the election result, I am confident we will see still better numbers and records set in the months to follow.”
Notes to editors:
For full details of the latest claimant count in Worcester see:
The figures on earnings growth & national unemployment statistics can be seen at:
Robin recently welcome the impact of the Employment Allowance which has helped over 1,300 firms in Worcester employ people
He also recently welcomed a Business Minister to Worcester to meet with local businesses and hear how they could be helped to expand and take on more workers
For his commentary on last month’s job figures and links to previous commentary on unemployment in Worcester see: