Unemployment Claimant Count Rate - May 2019.

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 position for May 2019 shows that Staffordshire’s unemployment claimant count rate has remained the same as in April 2019 at 1.7%, although there has been a slight increase (285) in the number of claimants. The rate in Staffordshire remains one of the lowest rates out of the 14 strategic authorities in the West Midlands, and well below the national rate of 2.7%. In Stoke-on-Trent the claimant rate has remained at 3.9%, with 6,330 claimants showing a slight increase of 150 on the previous month.

A general increase over the last month has been experienced across all West Midlands authorities and nationally, however as in April the rate of increase has generally slowed compared to that seen over previous months. This provides further indication that the impact of Universal Credit full service roll-out on the claimant count is easing. We will closely monitor this over coming months.

The picture is similar at a district level with all Staffordshire local authorities seeing an increase between April and May, with the exception of Staffordshire Moorlands which experienced a slight decrease. Cannock Chase and East Staffordshire saw the largest increases. As with wider regional and national trends it is likely that these increases in unemployment benefit claimants are due to the continuing effect of Universal Credit rollout, with media monitoring of business start-ups and failures not identifying any noticeable job losses that can be directly attributed to the increases.

The latest data shows that nationally unemployment remains at its lowest rate since 1974, whilst employment is up 357,000 over the last year, and by 3.7 million since 2010.

Again nationally there are 458,000 fewer young people out of work since 2010 and the rate of women in work is at a record high and wages have increased by 3.4 per cent compared with a year earlier - growing by 1.5 per cent after adjusting for inflation – meaning people have more money in their pockets.

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.

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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