Unemployment Briefing - March 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 March have been released and show our Conservative number one priority of having a productive Staffordshire economy continues to work.

The latest position for March 2019 shows that Staffordshire’s unemployment claimant count rate has seen a slight increase from 1.5% in February 2019 to 1.6% (an additional 565 working age claimants) but remains the joint lowest out of the 14 strategic authorities in the West Midlands and well below the national rate of 2.6%. In Stoke-on-Trent the claimant rate has increased to 3.8%, with 6,025 claimants (an increase of 435).

A general increase over the last month has been experienced across all West Midlands authorities and nationally.

The picture is similar at a district level with all Staffordshire local authorities seeing an increase between February and March, with Newcastle-under-Lyme and East Staffordshire seeing the largest increases. It is likely that these increases in unemployment benefit claimants are due to the continuing effect of Universal Credit full service rollout whereby more people are required to look for work than was previously the case. Media monitoring of business start-ups and failures has identified no noticeable job losses which these increases can be directly attributed, however there are a number of recent news stories regarding potential job losses in the local area, such as at Wedgwood in Barlaston and Fox’s in Uttoxeter, which may see an increase in claimant numbers over the coming months.

New figures show that the number of people in work is at a record high and wages have risen at their fastest pace in a decade. With wages continuing to increase faster than prices, more people have the security of a regular wage and can provide for their families.

We are helping people into work by reforming welfare so work always pays, while backing businesses to create more, better paying jobs across the whole country through our careful economic management and modern Industrial Strategy.

Since 2010, across the country we have helped over 3.6 million more people into employment. The number of people out of work nationally is at its lowest since 1975, at 3.9 per cent – as we are helping people into work so that they have the economic independence that a job brings and can reach their full potential.

Behind every employment number is a person and a family whose self-esteem, mental wellbeing, economic circumstances and life chances are all vastly improved by being in the workplace.

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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