Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have confirmed that unemployment fell in the North West by 5% between December 2015 and February 2016. This was in contrast to national figures, which showed that unemployment had risen in the UK for the first time in nearly a year. Total unemployment throughout the period rose by 21,000 and stood at 1.7 million. The national unemployment rate now stands at 5.1%.
The statistics reveal that some regions in the UK are fairing better than others. For example, the unemployment rate in Scotland stands at 6.2% (1.1% above the national average), whilst employment in the East Midlands increased by 13,339, reducing the unemployment rate in the region to 4.5%.
ONS statistician Nick Palmer stated: “It’s too soon to be certain, but with unemployment up for the first time since mid-2015 – and employment seeing its slowest rise since that period – it’s possible that recent improvements in the labour market may be easing off”. Some economists believe that this uncertainty in the job market could be linked to the referendum on EU membership in June 2016, which could be deterring companies from taking on new staff.