November 14, 2019 @ 9:46 by Richard Dawson
New employment figures have revealed that the North East has the highest unemployment rate in the country, a gap that has only widened in the last few months.
Between July and September 2019, unemployment in the region grew to 5.9 per cent, the highest rate in the UK and a long way from the national average of 3.9 per cent.
This is a 0.5 per cent increase from the rate from Q2 (April–June) 2019, showing that the situation has worsened over the course of the year.
Compared to the ONS figures from the same period in 2018, the rate has grown by 0.9 per cent — at this point in 2018 there were 12,000 more people with jobs.
The North East still has the lowest employment rate in the country at 71.2 per cent, despite seeing a 0.4 per cent increase on the number of people in employment — the national average is 76 per cent.
Commenting on the regional labour market statistics, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) senior economist Victoria Sutherland, said: “The data shows a mixed picture for the North East region, which covers the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas.
“We are pleased to see that the number of people in employment has increased by 6000 over the last three months.
“The North East was one of five English regions to see employment increase, with only the North West and West Midlands having larger increases.
“Whilst the number of people in employment has increased, the number participating in the labour market has grown even faster.
“As a result, unemployment has also increased, with 7000 more people unemployed than last quarter. The North East continues to have the highest unemployment and economic inactivity rates in England.
“It is important that partners across the North East continue to work together to create the conditions for a stronger economy which delivers employment growth.
“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of more and better jobs.”