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The Job Centre at Devizes

South West tops league of English regions with lowest levels of unemployment

The South West tops the league English regions with lowest levels of unemployment, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week.

According to figures for the period June to August 2014, South West unemployment decreased by 8,000 to 4.6 percent, down 0.3 percent on the quarter and 1.6 percent on the year. Nationally unemployment stands at six percent.

South West employment decreased marginally (0.1 percent) on the quarter to 76.2 percent. However, this is still up 1.8 percent on the year. Nationally employment stands at 73.0 percent.

On a national scale, the unemployment rate continued to fall and is at its lowest since late 2008, at six percent.

National youth unemployment was 16 percent, down from 17.7 percent in the previous three months, but still above average unemployment and above pre-recession levels.

Welcoming the figures, Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “National unemployment has plummeted throughout the past year, and the South West is leading this drive with the lowest levels of any English region.

“The UK jobless rate in this period was at its lowest level since late 2008, showing how the labour market is provided a strong base for growth.

“The South West has seen unemployment drop by 44,000 since this time last year, and the ONS figures announced today show it fell a further 8,000.

“This aligns with what local firms have told us in the last 12 months as our local business survey has found business confidence and recruitment are up on this time last year.

“However, although these figures show that the UK labour market remains strong, they also show the slowest increase in employment in over a year.

“This would indicate that growth is easing and that the recovery is not as strong as anticipated. Youth unemployment also remains stubbornly high and despite a fall this quarter it still remains above both average unemployment and pre-recession levels.

“Although this continual growth in the labour market is cause for optimism, this is not the only indicator we should be focussing on as there are still fundamental weaknesses in the economy that act as a drag on the long term recovery.”