Unemployment down in Essex

Reopening of the hospitality sector has helped drive down unemployment in the East of England – including Essex – sparking optimism over long term prospects for the jobs market.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that 124,000 people were unemployed in the East of England in the three months to April 2021.

It means there were 6,000 fewer people out of work compared to the previous quarter between November to January 2021. District level unemployment has reflectively fallen.

Essex also saw a reduction of people claiming benefits from 50,315 to 46,840 last month, with Chelmsford falling from 4,920 to 4,620 and Brentwood from 2,310 to 2,230.

The number of people employed in the eastern region – that includes Essex – in the three months to April was up by 12,000 to 3.1 million.

Leading the surge is hospitality and entertainment firms who have hired staff for indoor reopening this summer following a partial re-opening on May 17.

Following the four-week delay to easing restrictions on Monday, it is now expected that remaining restrictions be lifted on July 19.

Figures show that there were 197,000 more people in payrolled employment last month compared with April – the highest rise since these records began in 2014. There is rising optimsm that new freedoms are boosting the jobs market but the impact of reduced furlough support is unknown, and if it will result in redundancies.

The East of England now has an employment rate of 77.8 per cent compared to 75.2 per cent for the UK as a whole with 32.4 million now in work.

The national total claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit, last month was 2.5 million – a fall of 92,600.

The East saw a fall from 207,355 claimants to 195,130 – five per cent of the working population.

Essex saw a reduction from 50,315 to 46,840 – five per cent of the population.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our Plan for Jobs is working – the latest forecasts for unemployment are around half of what was previously feared and the number of employees on payroll is at its highest level since April last year.

“We understand the value of work and the distress caused by unemployment – that is why we are continuing to support people and jobs.

“The furlough scheme is running all the way through until September and we are creating new routes into work through apprenticeships, Kickstart placements for young people as well as targeted support for the long-term unemployed.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter