Latest figures show jobs market recovering after the pandemic and benefits claims across Lancashire begin to fall

More people are getting back to work after the disruption caused by the pandemic according to the latest national statistics.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 12:30 pm

UK worker numbers rebounded further in July as the labour market recovery continued despite the initial winding down of the furlough scheme, according to official figures.

But across Lancashire while employment has increased, the number of people claiming benefits such as Universal Credit to top up low wages, or Job Seekers Allowance, remains high although numbers have begun to fall.

The Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 182,000 between June and July, although at 28.9 million it is still 201,000 lower than before the pandemic struck.

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Latest ONS figures show employment rising slowly as the country recovers from the effects of the pandemic lockdowns

The statistics body also confirmed that the rate of unemployment had dipped to 4.7 per cent for the three-month period to the end of June.

Analysts had predicted that the unemployment rate would stay flat at 4.8 per cent for the quarter.

Locally the monthly claimant count for July showed that Blackpool South had the highest number of benefits claimants with 5,320 claiming, or 10.9 per cent of the constituency's population, a figure down 2.4 per cent on last July's figures.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys had 3,780 claimants, 7.7 per cent of the population, down 1.9 per cent on last year.

Preston had 4,865 claiming, 7.5 per cent of its population, down 0.9 per cent on July 2020.

Elsewhere, Chorley had 2,485 claiming, down 1.1 per cent on last year, Fylde had 2,020 claiming, down 1.5 per cent on 2020, Lancaster and Fleetwood had 2,590 claiming, down 0.7 per cent on 2020.

South Ribble had 1,790 claimants, down 1.1 per cent, Wyre and Preston North had 1,405, down 1.1 per cent and the Ribble Valley had 1,700, down 1.0 per cent.

The ONS also reported a further surge in job vacancies as firms seek to fill roles following the reopening of the economy, rising by more than 290,000 against the previous quarter.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The world of work continues to rebound robustly from the effects of the pandemic.

“The number of people on payroll was up again strongly and has now grown over half a million in the past three months, regaining about four-fifths of the fall seen at the start of the pandemic.

“Meanwhile, early survey figures show that the number of job vacancies passed one million for the first time ever in July.

“There was no sign of redundancies starting to pick up in our survey data ahead of the furlough scheme beginning to wind down, and Insolvency Service figures for July suggest the same.”

In response to the figures, The British Chambers of Commerce's head of statistics Suren Thiru, said: “The latest figures confirm that the UK jobs market is recovering strongly as the boost to demand from the easing of restrictions helped drive higher payroll employment in July.

“Record vacancies confirm ongoing recruitment difficulties. Although the changes to self-isolation rules will help, with many firms facing a more deep-rooted squeeze on labour supply from the impact of Covid and Brexit, staff shortages may persistently weigh on economic activity.

“Alongside rapid retraining opportunities, government should extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022 and expand it to enable older workers to gain new skills and experience. A more flexible immigration system is also needed to ensure that firms get access to the workers they need.”

But Steve Haines, Director of Public Affairs at youth charity Impetus, cautioned: “Today's figures show youth employment recovering slower than any other age group, with over 125,000 fewer under 24s in work than before the pandemic.

"With 200,000 young people still on furlough, and many more school and college leavers looking for their first jobs, young people are continuing to be hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic."

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