Yorkshire’s economy is now one of the best-performing in the country after creating 15,000 jobs in the past three months, the new Employment Minister has said.
Esther McVey said the latest jobs numbers were “significant” as the region finally starts to emerge from the recession.
Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed unemployment fell by 6,000 in Yorkshire over the three months to September, while the number of people in work rose by 25,000.
Across the UK as a whole, unemployment fell by 18,000, while the number of people in work rose to a record high of nearly 30 million.
“As a whole for Yorkshire and Humber, I think this is one of the best-performing areas,” said Ms McVey, who was promoted to her now role in last week’s Government reshuffle.
“We’ve seen 65,000 more (people) in jobs over the year, 25,000 in the last period, unemployment down 6,000... This is a significantly-performing area.”
Despite the improving picture, Yorkshire’s unemployment rate still stands at 8.8 per cent – well below its peak during the recession, but still significantly higher than the national average.
Nonetheless, Ministers are keen to point to the region’s private sector job growth as a sign the economy is rapidly improving.
While on his visit to the region last week, David Cameron said it was time to “celebrate Yorkshire’s part in the recovery”, citing figures showing that in the past year, businesses in the region have created more jobs than anywhere outside of London.
Speaking in the Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Cameron welcomed the latest jobs figures as “good news” but stressed there is more work to be done.
“There is absolutely no complacency,” he insisted. “We need more young people in work, we need more jobs.
“But one of the remarkable things about today’s figures is that they show for the first time that there are one million more people in work than there were when this Government came into office.”
There was a sting in the tail for Mr Cameron, however, as new statistics from Europe showed inflation is now higher in the UK than any other country in the EU.
Labour seized upon the figures to repeat accusations that Britain is gripped by a “cost of living crisis”, with few feeling the benefits of the economic recovery.
Rachel Reeves MP, the Leeds West MP and Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “The small fall in unemployment is welcome, but there are still far too many people chasing too few jobs. And for those in work, the cost of living crisis continues, with prices now rising faster than wages for 39 out of the 40 months since David Cameron became Prime Minister.
“Working people are now on average more than £1,500 a year worse off under this out-of-touch Government.”
Bur Mr Cameron hit back, insisting that tax cuts introduced by the Coalition mean people’s disposable income is actually on the rise.
“What you have to do is look at disposable income as well as wages,” he told Labour MPs.
“Because this Government has cut people’s taxes, because we are allowing people to keep £10,000 of what they earn before they pay taxes, disposable income went up last year - and it is rising as we speak today.”
Labour sources dismissed the claim as “total nonsense”.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband said: “I think the British people will be very surprised to hear the Prime Minister telling them that their living standards are rising, when they know the truth - under him, living standards are falling month upon month upon month.”