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The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data includes both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas and covers the period from December 2019 to February 2020.

“Today’s release relates to the quarter before the coronavirus restrictions were put in place which have started to significantly affect the North East economy. It provides useful insights into how our labour market was performing at the end of February

“Overall, the data for this quarter was encouraging, with employment having increased by 15,000 compared to the previous three months and unemployment having fallen by 7,000.  There was also a decline in the number of people that were economically inactive – a broad group that includes those who are not actively seeking work for a wide range of reasons, including full-time study, looking after family and home, disability and ill-health, and retirement – of 6,000.

“Over the last quarter, the North East was the English region that had the largest fall in the unemployment rate of those aged 16 and over of any English region.  It also had the joint highest increase in the employment rate for those aged 16 to 64.

“However, despite these gains, going into the current scenario the North East was the English region with the lowest employment rate and highest unemployment rate.

“Whilst today’s statistics are important, we recognise that the measures being taken in response to COVID-19 are having a significant impact on our economy with these numbers now representing the benchmark for our future recovery.

“The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities have come together, with the support of industry, to form the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group to provide maximum support for businesses in the immediate term and to plan for long-term economic recovery following the coronavirus outbreak and to ensure the region has strong and collaborative economic leadership as we work through the impacts of COVID-19.

“The immediate focus is on supporting businesses to remain operational, to keep people in employment and to work with partners to solve industry challenges.

“By co-ordinating one response to the current economic crisis, we will use one voice and our collective influence to reassure the North East public, deliver crucial interventions and lobby Government.

The North East Growth Hub is working hard to ensure businesses have access to all of the latest information, guidance and support regarding Covid_19. This can be viewed here: https://www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk/toolkits/covid-19-coronavirus-toolkit

Business are also being asked to complete this short survey to help us understand what support is needed and feed this back to government: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/COVID19_Business_Survey

ENDS

Notes to editors

About the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP)

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is a public, private, education and voluntary sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

 

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Colin Bell