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Manufacturing and service sector growth underpinning record numbers in work

A continued surge in North East jobs is being fuelled by manufacturing and the service sector, today’s Labour Market statistics reveal.

North East LEP Chief Economist Chris Milne pointed to record employment statistics being driven by both the manufacturing and service sectors, as the North East narrowed the employment rate gap with the UK to 3.7 percentage points.

The percentage of people aged between 16 and 64 in employment in the North East in the latest quarter between October and December 2015 stands at a record 70.4%, up 2.1 percentage points on the previous quarter.

A total of 1.2m people are now in work in the North East – the highest ever recorded figure.

The final quarter of 2015 also saw the UK employment rate rise by 0.4 percentage points to 74.1%.

Today’s figures show that there are 9,000 more jobs in manufacturing and 28,000 more in the service sector, the two main sectors driving new employment growth in the region.

Unemployment is down 0.4 percentage points in the last quarter and people claiming Job Seekers Allowance is also down.

Economic inactivity has also fallen in the same period, down by 2.1 percentage points in the last quarter.

The statistics reveal that more people want to work and the number of people citing both long and short-term sickness as a reason for inactivity has fallen.

Chris said: “While we must not get carried away by short term fluctuations in statistics, today’s labour market figures give us reason for optimism.

“We are seeing a longer term trend towards an improved labour market picture in the North East, driven by job creation in a broad range of sectors.

“Manufacturing job growth demonstrates growing demand for the things we produce in the region and service sector job creation indicates broader economic growth and a sense of prosperity.

“Over the past year private service sector job growth in administration and support services and accommodation and food services has been particularly important, delivering 19,000 more jobs combined.

“The service sector will remain an important sector for economic growth of the region, and has more than compensated for public sector job losses over the past year.”

Chris continued: “Labour market inactivity has been a real challenge for the North East economy and with the national economy reaching full employment, it is essential that we get more people back into the labour market so that we can take advantage of economic growth opportunities.

“At 23.3%, we now have the lowest inactivity rate since the second quarter of 2014, where we hit an all-time low of 22.9%. We still need to do more to get people aged 50 plus back into work with a third of those in the inactive group.

“However, looking at today’s figures against a backdrop of strong GVA growth over the past few years we can see that the North East is on the up and good progress is being made towards achieving what we have set out in our strategic economic plan; 100,000 more jobs by 2024.”