Economic inactivity remains high in the North East – April’s regional employment statistics

Author - Courtney Hiles

Date published:

Marianne O’Sullivan, policy manager at the Chamber, said: 

The ONS employment figures released today (16 April) show that the region still has high levels of economic inactivity with people not seeking work or unable to start work.

The economic inactivity rate for people aged 16-64 in the North East remained higher than the national average, by 4.7%. The North East’s employment rate for those aged 16-64 was 4.1% lower than the national average.

The North East has the highest level of economic inactivity in England with an increase of 2% compared to December 2023-February 2024.

Between December 2023 and February 2024, the unemployment rate in the North East for those aged 16+ was 0.6% lower than the national average. We have seen volatility within the employment figures as the labour market survey is reweighted, so we will need to see if this is a long-term trend.

Our Quarterly Economic Survey covering February to March 2024 shows that there has been an increase in businesses looking for staff, with demand for full-time (3.8%), temporary (1.9%) and permanent (2.9%) positions all rising. High levels of economic inactivity results in losing potential jobseekers that could add value to their workforce.

Ill health is a key reason behind economic inactivity. Occupational health is a key element to getting people back into work and supporting people to remain within the workforce.

We are working with our members, the Department for Work and Pensions and the British Chambers of Commerce to understand more about employer sentiment when it comes to occupational health and how businesses can be supported to incorporate occupational healthcare into their workforce strategy.

We will continue to explore ways in which we can best support and represent our members.


Data published by the ONS shows between December 2023-February 2024, the unemployment rate in the UK for ages 16+ was 4.2%. In the North East this was lower at 3.6%

The UK’s employment rate for ages 16-64 was 74.5%. In the North East this was lower, at 70.4%.

The UK’s economic inactivity rate for ages 16-64 was 22.2%. In the North East this was higher, at 26.9%.

For more details on the ONS’s switch from experimental data to official statistics under review, please click here.

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