Unemployment Briefing - January 2019.

This article has been kindly given to the SSCA by Philip Atkins OBE, Leader of Staffordshire County Council (philip.atkins@staffordshire.gov.uk).

The latest unemployment claimant figures for January have been released and show our Conservative number one priority of having a productive Staffordshire economy continues to work.

The latest position for January 2019 shows that Staffordshire’s unemployment claimant count rate has seen a slight increase to 1.4% but remains the lowest out of the 14 strategic authorities in the West Midlands and well below the national rate of 2.4%.

There has been an increase of 585 working age claimants in Staffordshire since December 2018, with a total of 7,535 claimants in Staffordshire. In Stoke-on-Trent the claimant rate has increased to 3.3%, with 5,240 claimants (an increase of 285). A general increase over the last month has also been experienced across all West Midlands authorities and nationally.

The picture is similar at district level with all Staffordshire local authorities seeing an increase between December and January. East Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme have seen the largest increases and these are the areas which were last to move to Universal Credit full service in November and December last year. The increase in claimants in these areas follows a similar pattern to that witnessed in other areas which have previously seen the rollout of Universal Credit. Although all districts/boroughs are also likely to have seen some increase due to seasonal jobs coming to an end.

Nationally figures show wages have risen at their fastest pace in 10 years as employment reaches a record high, with more than 32.6 million people currently in work. These figures show our balanced approach to the economy is working. This is the biggest rise in wages for a decade and with wages rising faster than prices, hard-working people can keep more of what they earn.

Lest we forget compare this with Labour’s record of handling the economy:

  • No Labour government has ever left office with unemployment lower than when it started. Every Labour government has left office with unemployment higher than it was when it came into government. Comparing roughly the election periods of October to December 1974 to March to May 1979, the unemployment level increased from 976,000 to 1.4 million.  Taking May to July 1997 to March to May 2010, the unemployment level increased from 2.1 million to 2.5 million (ONS, Labour Market Statistics, 19 February 2019, linkFullfact, 7 April 2014, link). 
  • The number of unemployed people increased by one million in Labour’s last term in office. At the start of Labour’s third ministry in March to May 2005 the unemployment level was 1.4 million but by March to May it had risen to 2.5 million (ONS, Labour Market Statistics, 19 February 2019, link). 
  • The number of households where no member had ever worked nearly doubled under Labour. This rose from 184,000 in April – June 1997 to 354.000 in April – June 2010 (ONS, Working and workless households, 28 November 2018, link).

With so many employed and such a small number of people claiming benefits across Staffordshire, this is good news for everyone in the county and means people are making the most of the opportunities on offer. Our long term economic plan in action shows we are backing businesses to create more, higher-paying jobs.

Philip Atkins OBE

Leader of Staffordshire County Council

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