Falling unemployment must not mask challenges ahead
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today (Wednesday) released the Labour Market Statistics for the period October to December 2014.
James Durie, Executive Director of Business West, comments:“In what seems to be a recurring theme as the UK has pulled out of a damaging recession, today we see yet more positive news coming out of the labour market.
“Unemployment has continued to fall over the past year as GDP growth pushed us out of a downturn.
“Whilst a continual drop in unemployment is encouraging, it must not mask significant hurdles still in front of us.
“Yes, UK employment is at its lowest since mid 2008, and yes, the South West is spearheading this decrease with a rate well below the national average.
“But there is a reason we are still hearing faint alarm bells rather than celebratory cheers. With a General Election looming in May there is still work to be done to create a prosperous environment for business.
“Earnings are now increasing much faster than prices which is good news, however, it is important to remember that wage increases can only be sustainable if they are matched by increases in productivity.
“In Bristol for instance, which this year is European Green Capital, the city region economy still has a long way to go to match the productivity and long term competitiveness of many knowledge driven city region economies in northern europe.
“These are the more useful comparisons we should be making to benchmark our economy and challenge our policy makers.”