South West unemployment holds steady at 3.6%

Phil Smith

Latest figures show that South West unemployment has remained steady at a rate of 3.6% for the latest quarter (Q3).

This compares to the national rate of 4.3% – the joint lowest since 1975.

However, employment in the South West has fallen by 21,000 to a rate of 77%.

The national figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, also show that there are now 32.1 million people in work, 317,000 more than last year.

These figures have been driven by increases in full-time and permanent work, and in the last year there are 20,000 fewer people relying on zero hour contracts.

The female employment rate is also at a near record 70.7%, with over 15 million women in work.

Less than 5% of young people eligible to work are unemployed at any one time and overall youth unemployment has fallen 40% since 2010.

Workers over the age of 50 has hit a record 9.97 million over the last year.

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, comments: “This month’s figures paint a familiar picture of high employment, low joblessness and a labour market in the South West among the country’s very best-performing. Nationally, the UK’s continued ability to create jobs remains striking.

“However, a drop of 1.5% in the South West’s employment rate could suggest that our region’s job-generating capacity is beginning to be stretched. For employers, a tighter labour market brings with it concerns over skills gaps along with growing pressures on wages.

“In a period still marked by unprecedented uncertainty, and with sluggish productivity and economic growth, businesses want to see concerted action from government to boost confidence.

“In his Autumn Statement next month, the Chancellor has the opportunity to deliver just that, not least by taking meaningful action to tackle a legacy of infrastructure underinvestment that continues to hold business back. Only then will firms across the West be best placed to repay him with investment, hiring and growth.”

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