Help for South West employers

The number of people in work has fallen in the South West- but employment experts believe it is only a minor blip for the region.

The number of people in work has fallen in the South West- but employment experts believe it is only a minor blip for the region.Recent figures by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 32,000 people in the South West lost or left jobs between December 2015 and February this year.

However, with 2,673,000 people holding down roles, employment rates are still rising year on year in the region.

Local Job Centre Plus bosses have blamed the quarterly decrease on high volumes of seasonal retail and postage contracts which ended in January.

Clair Silcocks, manager of the Job Centre Plus said: “Across November and December we typically see a lot of people taken on to cope with the Christmas rush, and these staff then leave again in January, which is perhaps affecting the figures.

“We also find that employers are less likely to advertise jobs in the fallow months in the run up to the start of the new tax year in April, so we expect to see an improvement in the next quarter.

“It is not something that we think is a serious wobble, we haven’t seen any significant redundancies in the region and we do have a very buoyant jobs market at the moment. Rather, this appears to be a minor blip down to seasonal trends.”

The ONS figures show that unemployment in the South West continues to fall and is down 2,000 in the last quarter and 22,000 year-on-year.

The Department for Work and Pensions says the disparity between the employment and unemployment rates can be put down to an increase in the number of people exempt from the employment calculations, such as students, those on sabbatical and pensioners.

Almost three quarters of women in the South West are in full or part-time jobs, making it the joint highest region for female employment in the UK.

Ms Silcocks said: “It is very encouraging to see that so many women have jobs in the South West. We have a lot of women in the region working in the retail and care sections.”

“A large proportion of women are in full time work, although part time roles are still an attractive option for women with families or in charge or caring for relatives.”

The number of people claiming benefits increased by 1,000 to 36,100 in the last quarter, but this is still down compared figures collected this time last year.

There has been an increase in the number of young people aged between 16 and 24 getting jobs, although those over 50 are struggling to land positions with employers.

One main barrier to employment in the South West is transport.

“It is still very hard for people to get around in Bristol and the South West,” Ms Silcocks said. “And, when it is available, transport in the area is very expensive, so it is a difficult barrier for those who do not own a car.”

Across the UK as a whole, unemployment rose by 21,000 to 1.7million and employment remained at 74.1per cent in the last quarter.

Wages before bonuses also went up nationally by 2.2 per cent.

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