In its May 2021 update on the state of the labour market, the Office for National Statistics has found that regional counts of employees on payroll have continued to show signs of increase.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, all regions’ counts of payrolled employees have shared a common pattern of rapid decline initially, before beginning to improve in more recent months.
However, the scale of change varies from region to region when comparing April 2021 with February of 2020. For example, in the West Midlands, there was a 1.3 per cent decline in payrolled employees from February 2020 to April 2021, compared to five per cent fall in London.
With regards to the employment rate, the highest estimate was seen in the southeast [78.5 per cent], compared with a low of 69.1 per cent recorded in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland was also subject to the largest fall in the employment estimate compared with the same period last year, down by 2.8 per cent.
The highest unemployment rate estimate across the UK was recorded in London [6.8 per cent], while the lowest [3.4 per cent] was seen in the wider southeast region. The capital also played host to the most significant rise in the unemployment rate compared with the same period in 2020, with a two per cent increase.
For the three months ending March 2021, the highest economic activity rate estimate across the country was recorded in Northern Ireland [28.3 per cent], with the lowest [18.7 per cent] see in the southeast. Northern Ireland also record the most substantial change compared with the previous year, with an increase of 2.1 per cent in economic inactivity.
Following the publication of the statistics, Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, praised the government for having acted decisively to mitigate the damage.
Jack said: “Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has acted decisively to protect lives and livelihoods in Scotland and across all parts of the UK, by supporting jobs through our furlough scheme and the additional £14.5 billion in funding for the devolved Scottish government.
“While there are encouraging signs in today’s figures, there is no doubt that challenges continue and that our shared focus must be on getting people back into work, businesses back on their feet, and our economy growing.
“As the success of the UK government-funded vaccine programme continues, recovery from the pandemic must remain our sole priority.”