UNEMPLOYMENT has rocketed in Yorkshire by 3,000 a month since October as business leaders warn the private sector is not growing fast enough to fill the void left by Government spending cuts.
Ten per cent of the region is now classed as unemployed – the third highest in the country, with more than a quarter of a million people out of work.
Yesterday, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed unemployment nationally had reached a 17-year high of 8.3 per cent – 2.64 million, with youth unemployment also soaring to record levels with more than 1 million 16 to 24-year-olds out of work, the highest since records began in 1992.
David Cameron insisted boosting the private sector was the only way to tackle the problem and said the Government’s Youth Contract had created 160,000 jobs, adding that half of the 250,000 people taking work experience placements were getting work within two months.
However, he was attacked by Labour leader Ed Miliband who accused the Prime Minister of “betraying a whole generation of young people”.
And Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “There are 253,000 people unemployed in Yorkshire and the Humber – up 9,000 since the last figures three months ago. Each one of these people out of work represents an unacceptable waste of talent and potential.
“Businesses and families in Yorkshire need the Government to stop making excuses and start taking action to get people back to work and get our economy moving again.
“Labour’s five point plan for jobs shows that it doesn’t have to be this way – we could tax the bankers’ bonuses to fund new employment opportunities for young people and boost house-building, use a temporary VAT cut to stimulate spending, and give a tax break to small businesses who take on extra workers.”
It was also revealed yesterday that more than 370,000 jobs have been lost in the public sector since the general election, with ONS figures revealing in the last quarter local government employment fell by 59,000, central government by 2,000, the civil service by 9,000 and public corporations by 6,000.
Mark Goldstone, of the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, called for investment in infrastructure to create growth.
“There is some private sector job creation taking place, but not at a fast enough pace,” he said. “The Government has a role to play in creating an environment that encourages wealth and job creation.
“The Chancellor recently made a number of statements around infrastructure investment, including the electrification of the Transpennine route, which will help restore business confidence, as well as creating direct jobs.
“The Government must act quickly to translate their rhetoric into action as we can’t afford these projects to get stuck in planning.”
The ONS also reported that women’s unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest figure since 1988.
The number of people out of work for longer than a year increased by 19,000 in the latest quarter to 868,000, the worst figure since 1996.
Jobseeker’s allowance claimants rose by 3,000 last month to 1.6 million, the ninth consecutive monthly rise and the highest total since the start of 2010.
Meanwhile the number of job vacancies fell by 8,000 to 455,000, while 161,000 people were made redundant in the three months to October, down by 1,000 on the previous quarter.
However private sector employment increased by 5,000 to 23.1 million, and average earnings increased by two per cent in the year to October, taking average weekly pay to £464.
Mr Cameron said all job losses were “bad news” and a “tragedy for those involved” but added whichever party was in power would be cutting public spending,
Responding to Mr Miliband’s attack at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “The absolute key to all this is getting our economy moving.
“We need private sector jobs. It is this Government that has got interest rates down to two per cent.
“That is why we have the prospects of growth whereas his plans are for more spending, more borrowing, more debt, more of the mess that we started with.”
The premier said the Government would do “all we can to help people back into work” and revealed the private sector had created 581,000 jobs since the coalition came to power.