South West unemployment rises, but firms remain confident

By Anita Jaynes on May 20, 2016

The latest data released by the Office for National Statistics announced on May 18 found that:

·South West unemployment increased by 14,000 (0.5%) in the three months to March 2016.

·The region’s unemployment stands at 4.2%, below the national average.

·National unemployment remained largely unchanged in the same period and stands at 5.1%.

Commenting on the labour market statistics, Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, said: “This latest news comes off the back of sluggish national growth and global headwinds, and comes as no surprise given the uncertainty being fuelled by the EU referendum.

“A few weeks ago we saw national growth soften in the latest GDP estimate, and growth forecasts have been cut by organisations across the board in the last few months.

“These national headlines can be daunting, but it isn’t all bad news. Our recent Local Business Survey found increases in sales, recruitment and business confidence here in the South West, and our region remains well below the national average.

“This rise in unemployment is a cause for concern, but from talking to the local business community we know that the overall mood remains optimistic.”