Cheltenham employment increases

Unemployment has risen for the first time in months in Gloucestershire – but the overall employer figures are mixed.

Unemployment has risen for the first time in months in Gloucestershire – but the overal employer figures are mixed.

Cheltenham appears to be the anomaly in the story so far – with year-on-year unemployment actually falling six per cent. Stroud’s figures stayed the same.

If ESB gives you the figures first before we provide the explanation, then we can say that in Gloucester the increase was eight per cent year on year, in Tewkesbury it was 23 per cent, in the Cotswolds eight per cent up and four per cent up in the Forest of Dean.

Just to confuse the picture still further, according to Jobcentre Plus the jobs market in the county is “buoyant” with vacancies across a broad range of sectors.

Di Haines, Gloucestershire employer account manager at the Department for Work and Pensions, can reveal just what is going on. She dismissed suggestions it was all an ill-effect of our decision to leave the EU.

“It may be due to a small change in how the claimant count is calculated. It now includes jobseeker allowance (JSA) claimants and those searching for work in universal credit (UC).”

“Previously it had been JSA and those out of work in UC. This is a change by the Office for National Statistics as an independent statistic, and is an improvement to the claimant count measure.”

Nevertheless, in the short term it plays havoc with the figures.

She added: “We still have a very buoyant jobs market in the county. There are vacancies in retail, security, care, finance, hospitality, engineering and IT. We have a wider range of vacancies than we had last year.

“I think we can say those jobs are because the economy has been growing here in Gloucestershire.”

In terms of head count the above percentages might not sound so dramatic. In Gloucester it means 20 more people are classed as claiming job seekers allowance (taking the total to 275), in Tewkesbury it is 25 more (135), in Stroud the total remained 125, in the Forest of Dean it meant five more (140) and in the Cotswolds also five more (70).

County wide the change year on year was five per cent up, or only 45 more classed as claiming – a total of 915.

As if to underlining its lack of complacency, jobs fairs are planned for October at Jobcentre Plus in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

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