Positive news from the labour market but challenges ahead, says Business West

By Anita Jaynes on 19 December, 2014

On Wednesday 17 December the Office for National Statistics (ONS)  released the Labour Market statistics for the period August to October 2014.

These show that:

  • Unemployment decreased in the South West by 2,000 to 4.8%, down 0.1% on the quarter. This is down 1.6% on the year and below the national average.
  • Employment in the South West increased by 18,000 on the on the quarter to 76.4%. This is up 2.2% on the year and stands above the national average.
  • On a national scale, the unemployment rate continued to fall and stands at 6%. This is down 0.2% on the quarter and 1.4% annually, matching its lowest level since 2008. Employment rose by 115,000 to 73.0%.
  • National youth unemployment was 16.6%, unchanged from last quarter. This was down from 20.7% a year earlier but remains above average unemployment and pre-recession levels.

Commenting on the labour market statistics published by the ONS, Ian Larrard, Director of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said: “We see yet more positive news coming out of the labour market, with unemployment down both nationally and here in Swindon, Wiltshire and the South West. As we close out a year that saw the UK finally pull out of a damaging recession and unemployment nose dive, this is yet another reason to celebrate.

“However, this is no time for complacency. The year 2014 will be remembered as the year we pulled out of the downturn, but now we must secure it. Despite growth there are fundamental weaknesses to be addressed in both the labour market and the wider economic backdrop. For example, falling unemployment this year has masked stubbornly high youth unemployment and we constantly hear Swindon & Wiltshire firms cry out about skills shortages caused by the current mismatch between education and employment.

“This year’s labour market statistics can be seen as an analogy of what we face on a wider scale. Throughout the year we have seen sparks of good news, such as increases in GDP and business confidence, but roadblocks still remain to securing long term growth. We now face a crucial time in the electoral cycle, and irrespective of which party forms the next government in May, change must happen which drives growth, aspiration and enterprise. In the New Year we will be releasing our business manifesto, which we will use to get the voice of local business in the room at this decisive political time.”

Pictured above: Ian Larrard, Director of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West.