GMCA has compiled the latest employment figures for the city-region in its labour market update, revealing the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the local economy.
Unemployment in the North-west rose to 4.8% in the three months to December 2020, slightly below the nation figure of 5.1%, according to ONS figures, in part attributed to government support schemes to protect jobs; GMCA reported that 12% of people were furloughed in Greater Manchester in January. Government support has also been attributed to the relatively low levels of redundancies made in Greater Manchester so far in 2020. The city-region authority expressed concerns of the risk of a sharp rise in joblessness should the scheme not be extended in the coming Budget.
While the region has outperformed the national average, GMCA raised concerns of a disproportionate number of people becoming economically inactive, defined as those out of work and not seeking employment. More than three times as many people in the region as a whole (68,000) have become economically inactive during 2020 as compared to those unemployed and seeking work. ONS figures indicate that 22.4% of the working age population of the North-west not seeking future employment.
City-region unemployment statistics are less regularly published compared to regional data, however unemployment benefits and Universal Credit claimant data can provide a picture of the impact of the pandemic more locally. While the number claiming JSA across Greater Manchester is slowly falling after a sharp rise in line with the first lockdown in March 2020, Universal Credit claimants are continuing to rise in line with rising joblessness. In Stockport, claimant numbers have more than doubled since January 2020.
Recruitment activity presents a more positive picture for the local economy moving forward.
ONS data on recruitment activity however has found job vacancies have increased during the first two months of 2021, with more live vacancies now than during the same period in 2019. Recruitment has risen steadily since a sharp drop in activity in Spring 2020 with the first lockdown, sugges