SMALL TOWNS and rural parts of Yorkshire are lagging behind neighbouring metropolitan areas in job creation as they struggle to bounce back from the recession, according to new research from national centre of UK trade unions.
Leaders of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have called for action to address the disparity between growth of employment opportunities in big towns, cities and less-densely populated areas.
A new report found that the number of people starting new jobs in South and West Yorkshire – home to the largest towns and cities – has improved in the past five years. Latest figures show that in South Yorkshire, the rate rose from down 28 per cent on pre-recession levels in 2009 to nine per cent at the end of last year.
West Yorkshire has witnessed a marginal improvement, increasing by one percentage point to over the same period. It is a stark contrast to the rest of Yorkshire and the Humber, where jobs creation has fallen from down four per cent on the pre-crash era to minus 16 per cent.
Neil Foster, TUC Policy and Campaigns Officer in Yorkshire, said: “The staggering finding from this report shows that job creation levels in Yorkshire are still well below pre-recession levels.
“While job starts are thankfully starting to recover in some urban areas of South and West Yorkshire it’s actually getting worse across the rest of the region.”
News comes as thousands of public sector workers prepare to vote on industrial action over pay, which could result in the biggest strike since the coalition government came to office.
Unions Unison, Unite and the GMB are balloting council employees in England and Wales this week in a dispute over a one per cent pay rise.
If workers vote yes, there will be a one day strike on July 10, which Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has predicted could be bigger than the general strike of 1926.
Midwives and maternity support staff are also being consulted on whether they want a formal ballot.
Mr Foster added: “We need an active economic strategy that focuses on developing all our growth sectors and communities and encourages better jobs and pay across the board.
“To improve employment and growth throughout the region we also need to be decent transport connections so people can access what jobs are created especially in our semi-rural areas.
“The problem is that the coalition’s savage cuts to councils are jeopardising existing bus routes at a time when they’re needed the most. At the moment too many people’s job opportunities are determined by where they live rather than what they can do. That’s not sustainable for businesses or for workers and has got to change.”
The report, written for the TUC by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI), paints a similarly bleak picture for the rest of the nation. Inner London is the only region where jobs are being created at a faster rate than before the crash, the study found.
In parts of the West Midlands job creation is down by 31 per cent, and by 30 per cent on Merseyside and throughout the rest of the North West.
Frances O’Grady, secretary of the TUC, said: “It’s worrying that across huge swathes of the country – particularly in rural areas – job creation levels remain depressed. We need to see far more high-quality jobs being created, not just in our cities.
Comment: Page 10.