Eastleigh’s Council Leader Keith House says the council is “working hard to create jobs” after today’s unemployment figures showed a small rise in the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance in the borough.
While the UK is experiencing record low levels of joblessness this downward trend contrasts with Eastleigh where although the JSA claimant count remains at historic lows, the number of jobseekers has ticked up for past three consecutive months.
Nationally, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7% – the lowest level in 12 years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that employment continues to run at a record high rate of 74.6%, with 31.85 million people in work – an increase of 315,000 on the year and more than 2.8 million since 2010.
The ONS says that rise in employment is driven by full-time work. Meanwhile, average weekly wages grew by 2.2% over the last year.
In Eastleigh the claimant count shows there were 450 people – or 0.7% of the working population – on job-seeker benefits in February.
This is down year-on-year from 600 in February 2016 but it has increased slightly since November, when the count stood at 510.
While the claimant count is the only monthly data that is published on local unemployment trends, the ONS has stopped using it as method of measuring unemployment, saying the figures are ‘misleading’.
Claimant count numbers are much lower than the ‘model’ based data published by the ONS in August which estimated there are a total of 2,500 people in Eastleigh who are unemployed or 3.3% of the working age population.
Further more, the model based figure may itself be an underestimate as according to the ONS the total number of people in Eastleigh’s working age population classed as ‘economically inactive’ is 10,800, of whom 7,100 are described as ‘does not want a job’ suggesting that 3,700 do.
This figure is supported by the 3,780 total number people in the borough who the ONS say are claiming one or more out of work benefits.
These figures are far higher than the claimant count and suggests that the majority of unemployed people in Eastleigh do not claim JSA either because they are ineligible (it is a means-tested benefit) or they don’t want to.
Despite this, unemployment in Eastleigh is still below regional and national levels and earlier today, a DWP spokesperson was upbeat about job prospects for the area telling Eastleigh News that the new M&S store in the town centre, along with the Watermark development in Southampton and the new Lidl distribution centre meant that there would soon be a ‘surge’ in retail jobs and that prospects for the local employment market were good.
Eastleigh Council Leader Keith House told Eastleigh News:
“The Council is working hard to create jobs by encouraging long-term investment in our Borough, as we have achieved at Eastleigh’s M&S and the expansion of Hendy Ford, and construction work on major projects from housing to Fleming Park’s new leisure centre.
“Our economic health is likely to be hit by renewed inflation due to drop in the value of the pound and the consequences of a hard Brexit reducing trade and jobs. It means we will have to continue to work really hard on job growth.”
In a statement Mims Davies welcomed the latest UK job figures as “great news” and said:
“I’m delighted by another set of record-breaking figures showing more people in work than ever before and unemployment falling to its lowest in 12 years.
“One of the most important challenges facing our local area’s economy is the huge infrastructure deficit and I will continue to make this case to Ministers – that we need investment in our local roads ahead of any more hostile large scale housing developments so that local businesses thrive and create even more local jobs.”
Updated 17.45 15-3-2017