108,000 jobseekers in West Yorkshire as unemployment balloons due to Covid-19

Credit: PA

Unemployment in West Yorkshire is now at its highest level since 1987.

Damning new figures showing the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the region's economy also show the number of jobseekers for every job vacancy more than trebled since March.

A meeting of the region's city leaders heard how, heard that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the region grew to 100,000 during the summer of Covid - with an increase of 18,000 in Leeds alone.

The shocking statistics were presented at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) employment and skills panel today.

In March there were about two claimants per vacancy in Leeds City Region. By August this figure stood at more than six, which is slightly above the national average. I should say the position has improved in recent months, but the situation is still a challenging one.

Peter Glover, West Yorkshire Combined Authority

He added Bradford was the worst area for said ratio in West Yorkshire, with just under 14 unemployed claimants per job vacancy, whereas the figure in Leeds was just under four.

"In Leeds and Wakefield, the ratios are lower," he said. "In Leeds, it is a key economic centre and has a large number of vacancies taken up by people from across the cityregion."

The meeting also heard how, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in West Yorkshire jumped from just under 60,000 in March, to 108,000 in August.

"In more usual circumstances, this would be seen as a big increase," Mr Glover said. "Looking at unemployment in West Yorkshire, it is now at its highest level since September 1987, so we are getting towards those mass unemployment figures that we saw in the '80s."

The number of jobless claimants grew by 90 percent in West Yorkshire, while the number of claimants aged 16-24 grew by 108 percent between March and July.

Mr Glover concluded: "We are looking at large numbers of people who may be affected by the wind-down of the job retention scheme - we have a high vulnerability to redundancies."