Western Morning News
Big rise in West unemployed – but there are still vacancies
THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Devon and Cornwall has more than doubled since the coronavirus pandemic began, new figures show.
In Devon, the most recent statistics reveal that 36,532 people who are claiming Universal Credit (UC) or Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) are actively seeking work. That is a 138% increase on 12 months earlier.
In Cornwall, the total is 18,491, which is an 118% increase in a year. The stats were compiled in November 2020 and compared to pre-Covid November 2019.
In Plymouth 10,283 unemployed people are claiming benefit while seeking a job. That figure is included in the Devon total, but is still an 86% increase.
The Plymouth number also includes 2,043 young people, aged between 18 and 94, which is a 94% rise in a year.
The regional figures were released as the nation’s jobless rate soared to its highest level for more than four years.
Official figures showed nearly 830,000 workers have been dropped from UK payrolls since the start of the pandemic.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the unemployment rate reached 5% in the three months to November for the first time since early 2016 after another 202,000 people lost their jobs.
Figures for December also showed there were 828,000 fewer Britons on company payrolls since before the crisis struck last February as the pandemic has hammered the jobs market.
Experts warned that there would be further pain to come after the latest lockdown rips through the labour market.
And in Plymouth, Nicky Keast, partnership manager for Plymouth DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), said it is not known how the situation will look when the Government’s furlough scheme ends in April.
She said many of the people pitched into unemployment in Devon and Cornwall were likely to have lost their jobs due to the economic effect the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and restrictions have wrought on the economy.
But she stressed that there are still many unfilled vacancies in sectors that are less affected, including care, security, construction and even retail and hospitality, with some businesses operating online or providing takeaway services, and supermarkets remaining busy.
On the job site Indeed, there were 1,605 vacancies in Plymouth alone, Mrs Keast said, and added: “They are in various sectors including sales and retail, call centres, and Plymouth
City Council has quite a few jobs.”
She said the Government’s own Find A Job site showed 422 vacancies in Plymouth, and said: “There are lots in the NHS jobs, and in education, including at City College Plymouth and Plymouth Marjon University, for support roles, and in manufacturing and care.
“The Range is advertising for quite a few jobs, and Iceland, Tesco, Morrisons, and even Foot Locker. The supermarkets are obviously doing well.”
And the pandemic has even created some jobs, including a need for people to work on the test-and-trace initiative - and for Jobcentre Plus.
“We will be doubling our work coaches in the Jobcentres,” Mrs Keast said. “We had a massive recruitment drive to get those new work coaches. We have another 80 just in Plymouth. In Plymouth we also have two work coaches just focusing on 18- to 24-year-olds. We are doing lots to support people that are out of work.”
Meanwhile there are calls to extend furlough scheme until June