North East unemployment falls slightly amid soaring UK joblessness

Newcastle City Centre during the January lockdown
Unemployment in the North East has fallen slightly, despite an overall rise in UK joblessness. Credit: PA Images

Unemployment in the North East is no longer the highest in the UK, as the number of people out of work fell slightly between August and November.

The jobless rate in the region now stands at 6.4 per cent, a fall of 0.3 per cent, according to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

London has overtaken the North East as the unemployment capital of the UK, with 6.9 per cent of people now out of work.

Two of the three local authorities with the highest unemployment rate in the UK are in the North East.

Hartlepool's jobless rate stands at 8.1%, followed by Birmingham at 7.8% and Middlesbrough at 7.7%.

The number of people in region aged 16 to 64 who are jobless and not actively seeking work has increased to 24 per cent.

Meanwhile the ONS figures show the national jobless rate has soared to its highest level for more than four years.

Nearly 830,000 workers have dropped from UK payrolls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the ONS has revealed.

Overall unemployment reached 5% for the first time since early 2016 in the three months to November.

The closed shops and quiet streets around York Minster during the January lockdown. Credit: PA Images

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser at North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “The employment statistics continue to show the impact the Coronavirus pandemic is having on the North East’s labour market.

"The region’s unemployment rate stands at 6.4%, significantly higher than the UK’s rate of 5%."

"Whilst the rollout of the vaccine offers a glimmer of hope, we remain firmly in the second wave of the pandemic. With many businesses in the hardest hit sectors having been closed since November, the long-term impacts of the second wave of this crisis will be acute.

"The North East went into this crisis with high levels of existing unemployment, leading the region to be disproportionately vulnerable to any national rise in joblessness."

The UK's vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, told ITV News ministers are "concerned" by the latest figures, but pointed to the billions in government support provided during the pandemic.

He said vaccines will find a route of the crisis and help return the economy and employment levels back toward normality.