Robin spent part of Friday visiting the highly successful Worcester News Jobs Fair at the Guildhall and speaking to local employers, recruiters and apprenticeship trainers. The previous week he was touring the stands at the #WorcestershireHour Festival of business and from both events the message was the same one of optimism – that the main challenge in the local jobs market was finding sufficient qualified applicants rather than not enough jobs. A number of businesses mentioned they were hiring and a wide range of sectors expressed confidence in the local economy.
This mood is backed by jobs figures that show that unemployment in Worcester as a percentage of the total workforce has been lower for longer than it has ever been before. For the last two years the figures for the overall claimant count have remained in a tight range between 1.8% and 1.4% and the average for 2016 so far is below 1.6% for the first time ever.
The total number of claimants in Worcester has remained close to the 1,000 mark, below which it dipped briefly in the early part of this year but despite the roll out of the universal credit and the addition of people receiving that benefit to the lists of claimants, it has remained within a tight range. The absolute number of claimants is close to record lows but this understates the performance as it takes no account of the steady growth in the population of the city, since records began in 1992. Using a percentage figure provides a fairer comparison.
The exceptionally low level of unemployment is in stark contrast to the Labour era when unemployment in the city, having averaged 1.8% at its lowest between 2001 and 2003, more than doubled in the space of a few short months in 2008 and rising to a record level of over 4.2% in January 2010. From 2006 to 2010 the average annualised rate rose from 2.1% to 3.7%, whereas from there and the election of the Coalition in 2010, it has fallen each and every year, reaching 1.62% in 2015 and so far this year it has been an average of 1.59%.
Worcester’s figure is now and has remained for a number of years lower than the West Midlands and national averages whereas during the recession between 2008 and 2010 it rose to be above the national average.
Commenting on these figures, Robin said:
“It is great to hear from so many businesses who are hiring and considering taking more people on, especially when we consider that unemployment in Worcester remains close to record lows. It is easy to forget how far things have improved and my usual focus on the monthly changes can sometimes disguise the longer term trends. Looking at the figures over the longer term, the yearly averages and the percentage figures we can see that Worcester is breaking new ground in terms of a sustained period of low unemployment.”
“I want to ensure we keep up this progress which is why I am delighted to have supported the Worcester News jobs fair and will be supporting similar initiatives by the city council and apprentice providers in the city. In Government I want to do all I can to ensure our economy remains competitive and that Britain and Worcester remain amongst the best places in the world to start or grow a business.”
Notes to editors:
To view Robin’s press release from last week on Worcester’s Festival of Business please see: