Employment in the East of England continues to sit amongst UK’s best rates

A job centre. Photo: PA Archive

A job centre. Photo: PA Archive - Credit: PA

The East of England has continued its streak as having one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, with its workforce working some of the longest hours in an increasingly larger jobs market.

The East of England has continued its streak of having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country – but its workforce is racking up some of the longest hours, according to new figures.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the region's employment rate of 78.7% is the second highest, behind the South West, and well above the national average of 75.7%.

The East has seen a steady fall in unemployment rates during 2018, with the current rate for March to May 2018 sitting at 3.5%, which is 0.3% lower than the period between December 2017 and February 2018.

The ONS statistics also reveal that men working in the East of England work some of the longest hours in the UK, coming in behind Northern Ireland with an average of 37.5 hours a week. Likewise, the region's women work the third longest number of hours every week, behind London and Northern Ireland.

The jobs market itself has also grown over the period of March 2017 to March 2018, with an extra 15,000 jobs being on offer to the region's employees.

Julia Nix, Jobcentre Plus district manager for East Anglia, said: 'The jobs we see coming up around this time of year are mainly in the hospitality industry. I think the weather has helped with this, because people are staying at home and heading to the coast instead of going abroad.'

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She added: 'We're also seeing new store openings like KFC and Tesco who want a lot of staff.'

As a result, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit has fallen from 11,250 to 10,660 since last month.

Employees across the UK have been rewarded by a pay increase in average earnings of 2.5%, meaning wages are increasing in line with the rate of inflation.

Ms Nix said: 'The East of England have seen a rise in wages against employment, and I think that's down to more employers wanting to pay their staff the living wage.

'We're seeing growth, and companies want to pass that onto their staff. In other cases, the new Universal Credits scheme is topping up families or individuals whose income is lower than what the government thinks they need to live.'