The latest data released by the Office for National Statistics today (15th February) found that in the three months to December 2016:
• South West unemployment fell by 0.3% to 101,000
• Unemployment in the region now stands at 3.6%, well below the unchanged national average of 4.8%
Commenting on the labour market statistics, Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, said:
“These figures show the jobs market in the South West continued to rally as 2016 drew to a close, with employment levels rising and unemployment falling. Our regional labour market remains one of the best performing in the country, and it’s pleasing to see the jobless rate nationally holding steady at an 11-year low. The data chimes with the findings of our latest local business survey, which showed workforce levels and recruitment intentions rising in the final months of the year.
“While the labour market remains a source of strength for our economy, there are reasons to be cautious. 2017 looks set to be a year when rising inflation places increased pressures on business costs.
"Furthermore there are some suggestions that in aggregate the jobs market could be edging towards full capacity. In some sectors, and for some job grades, demand is already outstripping supply. Our latest quarterly survey also saw business confidence falling to an alarming 4-year low, suggesting that critical uncertainties are still hanging heavy on West Country firms.
“As we near the triggering of Article 50, there are still big question marks for business over the quality of access to EU markets come 2019 and the ease with which they’ll be able to access European workers.
“In the Budget next month, the chancellor would be well advised to do all he can to bolster confidence and reduce the costs of doing business for firms looking to recruit and grow.”