Setting the Scene for the Autumn Statement: November’s Employment Figures
Callum George, policy adviser at the Chamber, said:
The ONS employment figures released today (14 November) suggest a continuation of the tight recruitment conditions businesses across the North East are facing. This follows our latest quarterly economic survey results which show that fewer than half of organisations are working at full capacity, meaning gaps between the North East and the rest of the country remain.
It’s worth highlighting that the ONS is currently using experimental datasets as they transition to new, innovative ways to measure local employment. As a Chamber we applaud the ONS for the work they are doing to estimate regional employment at this time.
Between July and September 2023, the unemployment rate in the North East for those aged 16+ was the same as the national average. However, the economic inactivity rate for people aged 16-64 in the North East remained higher than the national average, by 1.1%. The region’s employment rate for those aged 16-64 was 1.1% lower than the national average.
Compared to the previous quarter, in the North East, the employment rate has decreased by 0.1%, whilst the unemployment rate has remained the same. The economic inactivity rate has increase by 0.1%. This suggests a sense of steadiness in the labour market in contrast to the significant rise in employment we saw at the start of the year.
Since the last regional employment figures were published, the Chamber has launched its strategy for a stronger, fairer North East, in which we have highlighted policies that can help support those who are inactive back into work.
After consulting our members, we have submitted a set of pragmatic, sensible policy asks to Chancellor Hunt ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement.
Earlier this year, we were glad to see the Chancellor commit to the expansion of Access to Work, and highlight health-related barriers to work in the new Health and Disability Whitepaper. However, since then we have seen the number of people unable to work due to long term health issues reach an all-time high nationally, and a fifteen year high regionally.
We are therefore asking the government to go further in compassionately supporting people into accessible, secure work. We believe that further expansion of mid-life MOTs, greater investment in occupational health, and a clearer message of support for flexible working than we’ve seen since the pandemic would help achieve this.
As a Chamber we will be reacting to the Autumn Statement on 22 November, alongside our members.
Experimental data published by the ONS suggests between July and September 2023 the unemployment rate in the UK for ages 16+ was 4.2%. In the North East this was the same.
The UK’s employment rate for ages 16-64 was 75.7%. In the North East this was lower, at 74.6%.
The UK’s economic inactivity rate for ages 16-64 was 20.9%. In the North East this was higher, at 22%.
For more details on how the ONS is calculating experimental data, please see their statement here.