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UK – Job opportunities fall in four regions

20 January 2014

The likelihood of being in work has fallen in the North East, the North West, the West Midlands and the South West since mid-2010, despite the number of people in work increasing by over three-quarters of a million across the UK during this time, according to a new report published today by the Trade Union Congress (‘TUC’).

According to the TUC report, which looked at regional labour markets over the last 20 years, since the 2010 election there are 780,000 more people in work across the UK and the likelihood of having a job increased by one percentage point.

Despite this national increase, people’s chances of having a job have fallen in four English regions – the West Midlands (down -0.8 percentage points), the North West (down -0.7pp), the North East (down -0.6pp) and the South West (down -0.1pp).

This report is in direct contrast with a recent study from recruitment firm Hays, which credited the West Midlands with driving forward the UK’s recovery from recession.

Over the same period, employment rates increased most in Yorkshire and the Humber (up +2.4 percentage points) and the East Midlands (up +1.8pp).

The TUC report compares the most recent regional employment rates (July to September 2013) with the same three-month period in 2010, 2008 and 1993. It found that the South West suffered the biggest fall from its pre-recession employment rate. People’s chances of being in employment fell by -2.1 percentage points between 2008 and 2013. In contrast, individual’s job prospects in London and the East of England have increased by +0.4 percentage points since 2008.

The report also takes a long-term look at the labour market and finds that the UK’s working age population has grown by nearly four million in the last twenty years. Given this ongoing increase the TUC’s report commented it’s hardly surprising that there are record levels of employment each month.

The report shows that the North East and London have performed best over the last twenty years, with employment rates increasing by over five percentage points since the 1990s, in spite of the recession. However, even between the London boroughs there are big local differences, with someone living in Wandsworth or Richmond +20% more likely to be in work, compared to a resident of Newham or Barking and Dagenham.

The West Midlands has the poorest long-term jobs record, with the employment rates today barely any better than they were twenty years ago, when the UK was just coming out of recession.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain’s growing population has meant record levels of employment for much of the last two decades. But despite the return of growth the chance of having a job has actually fallen in much of England since 2010.”

“The City of London may have caused the crash but the capital’s job market has been the most resilient over the last five years. Instead, areas like the West Midlands have borne the brunt of recession, with people’s chances of being in work are barely any better today than they were after the last recession in the early 90s.”

“Whilst it’s great that jobs are created being in London and the South East, stronger job creation is needed throughout the country. We need more well-paid jobs, as well as better wage rises for those already in work, if the UK’s 30 million strong workforce is to get a fair share of the benefits of recovery,” she concluded. 


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