More jobs in Northamptonshire than before Covid pandemic but fears of cost-of-living crisis grow

Unemployment rate in county lowest for 48 years but ONS warns real pay ‘falling noticeably’

By Andrew Dowdeswell, Data Reporter
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 9:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:09 am

Latest figures showed the number of workers on company payrolls in Northamptonshire is continuing to increase.

UK unemployment has dropped to its lowest figure in 50 years, according to official data from the Office for National Statistics — though soaring prices are still hitting the pockets of people across the nation as earnings fail to keep up with inflation.

In West Northamptonshire, 203,288 people were in payrolled employment in March, up from 203,012 the month before and from 196,913 in March 2021.

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The number of people in employment in Northamptonshire is above pre-pandemic levels, according to latest figures

At the start of the pandemic, 199,673 people were in payrolled jobs in the area.

ONS figures for North Northamptonshire showed 171,237 people in payrolled employment in March. This was up from 170,974 the month before and from 165, 266 in March 2021.

At the start of the pandemic, 167,482 people were in payrolled jobs in the North.

Different figures show that across the UK, the unemployment rate hit 3.8 percent in the three months to February. It has not been lower than this since 1974.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "The stats show the continued strength of our jobs market, with the number of employees on payrolls rising once again in March and unemployment falling further below pre-pandemic levels."

However, the ONS said real pay was now "falling noticeably" with regular wages excluding bonuses tumbling 1.8 percent after inflation in the three months to February — the steepest decline in almost nine years.

Labour has called on Mr Sunak to "show the leadership the country needs" amid the cost-of-living crisis while Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the Chancellor has done little to help families in the current climate.

"By holding down pay in the public sector and cutting Universal Credit, he has made the crisis worse," said Ms O'Grady.

"Families need help now. Whoever is Chancellor tomorrow should go to Parliament with an emergency budget to help with surging energy bills and to get wages rising."

Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, called on the Chancellor to provide more support in the autumn budget, saying: "The sheer scale of this inflation-led squeeze of living standards makes it all the more remarkable how little support the Chancellor provided in his spring statement".

Mr Sunak acknowledged this is a "worrying time" but highlighted the £22 billion in support that the Government is providing in 2022-23, including the Household Support fund.

Employment minister Mims Davies added the Government is "doing everything we can to help", including supporting people in moving into better paid, higher skilled work and increasing the National Living and Minimum Wage.

Separate ONS figures also show there has been a fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Northamptonshire.

In West Northamptonshire around 9,350 people were on out-of-work benefits as of March 10, down by 4,575 from 13,925 at the same point the year before.

Meanwhile, in the North around 7,640 people were on out-of-work benefits, down by 4,355 from 11,995 in 2021.

It means around 3.6 percent of the county’s working population sought support in March.

Figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

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