Employment figures indicate less robust regional performance

Scott Knowles of the East Midlands Chamber

The number of people in work in the East Midlands between March and May 2018 was higher than for the same period last year and two years ago, according to new figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed there were 2,285,777 people in work in the region, 30,421 higher than for the same three months in 2017 and 19,977 more than in 2016.

Compared with the same period in 2016, there were 6,245 fewer people unemployed in the East Midlands between March and May 2018 at 100,287.

Unemployment, however, was 10,625 higher in the period this year than it was last year and 1,256 up compared with three months between December and February.

The ONS also reported that unemployment for the region, which was on a par with the national average at 4.2%, was 1,256 higher between March and May this year than was recorded for the December to February period.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “For a long time, the East Midlands has enjoyed fairly robust employment, usually bettering national average figures when it comes to job creation and the percentage of people out of work.

“While it’s too early to suggest trends or talk about economic slumps, the gap between the region and the national picture has been closing in recent months.

“There can be little doubt that Brexit is playing its part in these figures. The clock is ticking and business has yet to receive any useful information from the UK Government or Brussels about what our trading relationship with the EU will be after March next year.

“The lack of guidance is leading to uncertainty, which is bound to manifest itself as we get closer to the deadline, so I think it’s quite reasonable to expect businesses to hold off on investment and recruitment.

“That said, 67% of the firms that completed our second Quarterly Economic Survey of 2018 said they wanted to recruit but many were struggling to find suitably skilled or qualified staff, which suggests there is still an underlying business confidence.

“What is important now is that our Government does not cause that confidence to wan and delivers a Brexit for business instead of constantly bickering about it.”

Other figures released by the ONS this morning show that the claimant count has fallen across the whole of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, down 1,015 to 35,545 in June 2018 compared with the previous month.