North East leading the way in jobs growth

In the 12 months ending 30 September 2016, the number of people in full time employment in the North East increased by 4.4%. These 51,000 extra jobs have helped the region’s unemployment rate fall to 6.1% from 8.6% last year.

The West Midlands, Northern Ireland and Wales have also seen strong employment growth of 4.1%, 3.1% and 2.9% respectively.  Three of these top four have unemployment rates that are above the UK average of 4.8%.

At the other end of the table, the South West and East of England had been performing relatively well earlier in the year, but are now seeing job growth slow. This is exacerbated by rates of unemployment that are very low, at 4%. Scotland rounds out the bottom three with employment falling by 0.5%, continuing its recent weakness.

NatWest Senior Economist Sebastian Burnside commented:

“While there are still uncertainties around the UK leaving the EU, the improving performance of many UK regions is certainly welcome. It’s encouraging that many of the areas with the highest unemployment rates are seeing the greatest increase in employment levels. Hopefully this means that the jobs recovery is broadening out across the country with regions that hadn’t done so well until recently catching up.”

“Over the longer term we’ve seen momentous changes in the way the UK works. Part time work is on the up and has made roughly the same contribution as full time work to the increase in jobs seen since 2008. The factors behind this trend include rising participation of women and older workers, alongside the rapid growth of service sectors that tend to employ more part-time workers.”

Growth of part time work

Roughly three in four people currently work full time across the UK, but it is part time work which has made an out-sized contribution to the UK’s jobs recovery. Today there are over a million more people working part time than there were in 2008, virtually identical to the growth we’ve seen in full time employment since then, but from a much lower base.

That growth is continuing today with part time employment up 1.3% in the last 12 months, compared to a rise of 1.5% in full time jobs. The proportion of part time work varies greatly across the UK’s regions with it being highest in the South West and Yorkshire, but lowest in Northern Ireland and London.

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