Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fastest Drop.Still Highest Rate

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fastest Drop.Still Highest Rate

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Reporter

THE jobless total in the North East has fallen 1.2% to 8%, its lowest rate in seven years. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that in the last quarter from October to December, the total number of unemployed people in the region has fallen from 118,000 to 103,000.

For the October to December period of 2013 the jobless rate was 9.9% and the near 2% fall in the last year is the fastest drop in England.

However at 8.0% the unemployment figure is still the highest in the UK by some distance.

Wales has the next highest unemployment rate at 6.7%, while the rate for the UK as a whole is 5.7%.

The nearest rate in England is the North West, which is 1.5% lower at 6.5%.

Steve McCall of Jobcentre Plus in Newcastle said: "It's the trend, yearon-year, we've been looking at in terms of employment rates across the region.

"In terms of the labour market we're seeing there is a broad number of opportunities and different working patterns."

There was a significant drop in the unemployment rate for women since the last quarter from 9.8% to 8%. The figure for men fell from 8.7% to 8%.

Mr McCall said the figure for women was in part due to initiatives encouraging them into jobs they previously might not have considered like in the manufacturing sector.

He referred to the #notjustfortheboys campaign as continuing this work.

Speaking of the figures overall, he said: "Seeing some of the national figures the region is the best performing in the country, maybe because we have a bit more catching up to do."

However there are areas of concern. While the number of people taken on as full time has risen in the North East, the rate for the self employed continues to rise as well.

It has gone up from 122,000 to 134,000 in the last year, which represents a 10.2% jump.

The TUC has expressed fears that self employment, which is often lowly paid and insecure, is giving a false picture of what the true unemployment rate is.

In the last year there has been a 6.2% drop in public sector employees, a total of 15,000. …

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