Skip to content


ONS labour market statistics show downward trend for North East employment

Figures released today (May 14) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the North East’s employment rate fell by 0.8 per cent to 71.1 per cent, the lowest in the UK.

The region’s economic inactivity rate also rose 0.7 per cent to 24.7 per cent, leaving Northern Ireland the only region with a higher figure.

The region’s unemployment rate remained stable at 5.4 per cent in the three months to March 2019, but this figure also remains the highest in the UK. The UK average sits at an all-time low of 3.7 per cent.

Arlen Pettitt, knowledge development manager at the Chamber said: “North East England’s unemployment rate has been ticking up since last summer, reflecting our Quarterly Economic Survey results over the past few months which have seen a concern over staffing and recruitment trending upwards.

“The Government needs to look beyond the headline national figures and address the fact that the country’s economy continues to be built on regional imbalances. Here we may have seen more positive statistics a year ago as businesses planned for Brexit, but now the uncertainty is starting to bite.

“With confidence in the future lacking, businesses will be working even harder to make sure every time they recruit it’s the right person with the right skills.”

Sam Wall, founder and recruitment director at SEAO Talent Partners said: “These employment figures stress the importance for businesses to source talent with thought and consideration.

“Opportunities need to be shared far and wide to ensure exposure and inclusivity. The clients we are currently partnering with are however, still committed to gain additional team members, with roles and opportunities out there for individuals.

“The commitment is also there for the future, with many of our clients (and SEAO Talent Partners included) having steady, long term plans in place.”

Victoria Sutherland, senior economist at the North East LEP also gave her reaction.

“We are disappointed to see that today’s labour market statistics show that employment has fallen across the North East region, including in Tees Valley” she said.

“Employment has declined by 5,000 over the last quarter and 26,000 over the year.

“In addition, whilst unemployment has remained stable over the last quarter, it has increased by 7,000 over the last year.

“There has also been a rise in those that are outside the labour market, for example, because they are studying, looking after children or due to ill health.

“These trends are particularly disappointing given that the region had made significant progress in last few years.

“The number of men in employment has increased slightly over both the quarter and year, meaning the decline in employment reflects a fall in the number of women in work. In total, 23,000 women have left the labour market in the North East in the last 12 months. Going forward, it will be important to understand what is driving these trends.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with partners across the region to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan and its goal to deliver 100,000 more jobs by 2024 and to ensure the provision is in place to help residents progress towards, and into, available employment opportunities.”