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North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist Victoria Sutherland gave her reaction to today’s regional labour market statistics.

“We are pleased to see that employment in the North East has increased by 17,000 over the last three months. This is particularly encouraging as the number of people employed in the North East declined earlier in the year.

“However, the unemployment rate has also increased from 4.4% to 5.5% over the last three months. Whilst this is disappointing, the unemployment rate still remains lower than it was this time last year, when it was 5.9%.

“Given the increases in both employment and unemployment, we have seen a decline in the number of people who are outside of the labour market, by 31,000 over the last three months. People can be outside of the labour market for a number of reasons, including full-time study, looking after family or home, disability, ill-health and retirement.

“We have seen fluctuation in the North East’s labour market performance during 2018. This is being driven by the considerable uncertainty in the national economy.

“This uncertainty was also reflected in yesterday’s EY UK Regional Economic Forecast report that showed that the North East is the region with the lowest forecast growth to 2020. It is critically important for the North East that we move to a period of greater certainty so that businesses are able to plan and grow.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners throughout 2019 to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of creating 100,000 more jobs for the region between 2014 and 2024, with at least 70% of these being in managerial, professional and technical roles.

“We have recently worked with partners to launch a Brexit Toolkit that brings together business support, access to finance schemes and resources to help businesses with their preparations during this uncertain time.

The Brexit Toolkit can be accessed here: https://www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk/toolkits/brexit-toolkit/

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Colin Bell