Unemployment Briefing - May 2020.

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

The latest unemployment claimant figures for May 2020 have been released, and an overview of the rates, numbers and trends is attached for information. This release covers up to 14th May, and reflects the continuing impact of the UK lockdown implemented on March 23rd 2020. Further impact is to be expected over the coming months and we will continue to report the key findings on the day of each release.

Please note: Claimant count is a measure of those claiming Universal Credit, and not a measure of unemployment. The numbers below will include unemployed claimants, as well as those in work and eligible for Universal Credit due to low income, including those now receiving lower wages as a result of furlough or reduced hours. Unfortunately the data is limited and we are unable to make the distinction between these groups.

Key Headlines

The latest position for Staffordshire shows the claimant count rate has risen from 3.9% to 5.0%, a rise of 6,475 claimants, to a total of 27,260. Large increases have also been experienced both nationally and across the West Midlands. Nationally the claimant rate is now 6.5%, a rise from 5.0% in April 2020, and in the West Midlands it is now 7.3%, up from 6.0% in April 2020.

Staffordshire’s rate is the fourth lowest compared to the 14 West Midlands Strategic Authorities, in addition to being lower than the West Midlands and national rates. All 14 West Midlands Strategic Authorities experienced further large rises in the unemployment rate in May.  Claimant rates across the West Midlands now range from 4.5% in Herefordshire to 10.6% in Birmingham. 

All Staffordshire Districts have seen a rise in the number of claimants. Tamworth and Cannock Chase continue to record the highest rates in Staffordshire, although the highest monthly rise in numbers was in East Staffordshire. Local data does show East Staffordshire has the highest number of manufacturing sector jobs across the county - a sector which has been nationally identified as at risk of economic impact during the pandemic. However, it’s important to note all Districts remain lower or in line with the current national rate, and below the West Midlands position. 

Working to reduce the impact of redundancy

We recently set up our Redundancy and Recruitment Triage Service to help get people who have been affected back into work as quickly as possible, and will be signposting as many people as possible to this valuable service.

The impact of Coronavirus on our businesses and communities is unprecedented. Businesses are having to make incredibly difficult decisions to maintain their long-term sustainability but we are supporting them every step of the way.

As always, I'd welcome your support to encourage businesses to:

  • Contact the County Council run Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub for help - the first port of call for business support from qualified advisers. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of enquiries made to the Growth Hub for help has increased by almost 3000%, with most people needing help with cash flow and navigating to the funding they could be entitled to.
  • Speak to the Redundancy and Recruitment Triage Service if they are struggling with staffing - and not to wait until crisis point. The service  was set up by the county council and partners to help businesses to provide support to their staff and help match their skills up with roles in the growth sectors.

It is no longer business as usual and we need to be flexible and ready to adapt our approach on how we work to ensure we can continue to do the job we were democratically elected to do.

Our long term economic plan in action shows we are backing businesses to create more, higher-paying jobs and as Staffordshire Conservatives we will continue to help people build a better future for themselves and their families.

Why does this matter? Because behind every employment number is a person whose self-esteem, mental well-being, economic circumstances and life chances are all vastly improved by being in the workplace. When people are employed and 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.

We have reacted to the pandemic threat, the next stage is recovery and then renewal in a changing world.

Thank you for your continued support.


Philip Atkins OBE

Leader of Staffordshire County Council


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Claimant Count - May 2020.pdf 273.66 KB