Unemployment rises by more than 4% in East of England

Employment has reached an all-time high. Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

Employment has reached an all-time high. Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Employment across the UK has reached an all-time high, but saw a 0.6% fall in the East of England, according to latest figures.

The eastern region also saw unemployment rise by 7,000 or 4.1% to stand at 128,000. according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Nationally, employers and unions expressed concern about a fall in real wages of 0.5% allowing for inflation, and in productivity.

Matthew Percival, the CBI’s head of employment, said the continuing strong employment growth was “tainted” by falling real wages, reducing household spending power. “Separate figures confirm that productivity has been falling throughout 2017 – this matters as rising productivity is the only sustainable route to higher wages and better living standards,” he said.

Those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Suffolk and Essex fell by 805 and 461 respectively year-on-year, according to claimant count data, not seasonally adjusted, for July 13.

In Suffolk, Babergh’s claimants fell by 76 to 269, Forest Heath’s by 3 to stand at 201, Ipswich’s by 252 to 1,239, Mid Suffolk’s by 61 to 294, St Edmundsbury’s by 5 to 473, Suffolk Coastal’s by 42 to 253 and Waveney’s by 366 to 308.

In north Essex, Braintree’s fell by 66 to stand at 713, Colchester’s by 31 to 1,077, Tendring’s by 131 to 1,362 and Uttlesford’s by 26 to 168.

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The ONS said the number of people in work rose by 125,000 to 32.07 million in the three months to June, with the employment rate climbing by 0.3% to a record 75.1%.

Annual growth in wages was 2.1% for April to June, up from a revised figure of 1.9% for March to May.

Once bonuses are stripped out, pay expanded by 2.1% over the period, rising from 2%.

However, once inflation is taken into account, total pay in real terms sank by 0.5% both including and excluding bonuses.

It comes as the cost of living - which has marched higher in response to the Brexit-hit pound - held steady at 2.6% in July, in line with the rate for June.

ONS senior labour market statistician Matt Hughes said: “The employment picture remains strong, with a new record high employment rate and another fall in the unemployment rate.

“Despite the strong jobs picture, however, real earnings continue to decline.”

The number of people out of work dropped by 57,000 on the quarter to 1.48 million - a 12-year low.

Meanwhile, the so-called claimant count fell by 4,200 in July to 807,800.

The ONS said the number of people employed in zero-hours contract jobs had fallen by 20,000 to 883,000 on the year.

Julia Nix, district manager for the Department for Work and Pensions, who covers Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, said she was finding that both employers and employees are “very positive” at the moment, with lots of jobs available in sectors such as care - “ a huge growth industry” - retail and call centres and the predicted jobs downturn following the EU referendum vote not materialising.

The DWP, which had a pilot scheme in Lowestoft, was not only working with people without jobs but also with those on low incomes to try to help them into higher paying jobs which did not require a benefits supplement as part of the move towards Universal Credit, she explained

“It’s easier to get a job from a job,” she said. “Overall, nationally and especially in the east, wages have improved.”