Economic outlook still gloomy despite jobless fall
Falling unemployment is a “bright spot” among the gloom of the euro crisis, a Government minister has said.
The jobless total fell by 45,000 to 2.6 million in the quarter to March, the lowest since last summer, while the number on Jobseeker’s Allowance last month was down by 13,700 to 1.59 million.
But the Government admitted there are too many people in part-time jobs who wanted full-time work.
The Westcountry appeared to be following the trend. Some 30,170 people in Devon and Cornwall are on the dole, 2,325 fewer than the previous month.
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But the broader measure of unemployment in the greater South West – which counts all those out of work, not just on benefits – was not so rosy, rising by 10,000 to 175,000 people out-of-work.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the euro crisis was holding back businesses in Britain.
In a briefing with journalists, he said: “It’s still a pretty worrying economic environment. We have got all the issues around the eurozone which are having a very dampening effect on business confidence in particular.
“We know we have got businesses that have got the potential to invest but are holding back because of the current uncertainty. It’s a challenging and difficult time for the economy but this news is a bright spot and a positive development in the labour market.”
In Cornwall, the so-called claimant count – the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and the only way to measure unemployment locally – is 9,600, or 1,070 fewer than March.
The claimant count for the Devon county council area was 10,145 – down 835 month-on-month.
Plymouth’s claimant count was 6,760 – down 160 on the month – and Torbay’s 3,665 – a monthly fall of 260.
Of the wider South West increase in overall unemployment, Mr Grayling said: “This is obviously a worry in an otherwise good set of figures. It’s something we will look at carefully. We need to do everything we can to help the economy and businesses in the South West grow and develop.”
The Government was criticised for not doing enough to get industry motoring and taking on more staff in last week’s Queen’s Speech, which sets out its legislative priorities.
But Mr Grayling insisted ministers were doing much beyond law-making in areas such as health and safety guidance.
He told the Western Morning News: “Everybody’s got it into their head that they need to have their kettle tested every year. We’ve issued clear guidance to say ‘you know you don’t have to do that’. We think that will save business £35 million.”