Almost 7,000 people still on furlough in South Tyneside
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Provisional figures for December 31 – just a week before the third national lockdown came into effect – show there were 6,700 out of an eligible 62,700 employees using the scheme, a rate of 11 per cent.
Across the North East, 124,300 out of a potential 1,115,000 were on furlough – also the equivalent of 11 per cent.
North East England Chamber of Commerce policy advisor Niamh Corcoran said the latest employment figures released today, Tuesday, February 23, showed the furlough scheme had protected the region from the worst impacts of the Covid crisis, but the North East was still lagging behind the rest of the country.
Employment in the region stands at 1,161,000 or 71.2%, a fall of 6,000 over the quarter and a fall of 2,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 75% nationally.
Unemployment stands at 83,000 or 6.5% - a fall of 3,000 over the quarter but an increase of 5,000 over the year, and compared to a rate of 5.1% nationally.
Ms Corocoran said the latest figures offered a ‘mixed picture’ of the North East picture: “The figures do show signs that the Government’s furlough scheme is effectively limiting job losses and stabilising the labour market,” he said.
“However, the statistics continue to expose the regional disparities in the pandemic’s economic impact, with the regional unemployment rate standing at 6.5%, significantly higher than the UK’s rate of 5.1%.
The announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions yesterday had offered much needed clarity but was lacking guidance for businesses on what support would be available to help them get back up and running.
“In the Budget next week, the Chancellor must extend the furlough scheme according to the roadmap,” she said.
"Other forms of business support should also be made available to firms and sectors in line with the timeline laid out by the Prime Minister.
"Today’s national statistics show three-fifths of the fall in employees since the beginning of the pandemic were under 25. Clearly, young people are bearing the brunt of this crisis.
"The Government must deliver on its promises to protect young people and outline enhanced support for the under 25s.”