IT is testament to the resilience of the economy that a record 32.5 million people are in work according to new figures in spite of the upheaval over Brexit – and unknown ramifications of America’s trade war with China. Yet this statistic does mask the number of people on zero-hours contracts, sluggish wage growth and fears of a new North-South divide.
This is re-enforced by a breakdown of the latest unemployment figures. Though London and the South East recorded significant falls, joblessness in Yorkshire rose by five per cent to 137,000. This trend was replicated across the Midlands and the North, with the notable exception of the North West.
As such, it highlights, more than ever, the importance of attracting game-changing companies and developments like Sirius Minerals, the firm behind the £3.2bn polyhalite mine in Whitby. It will bring hundreds of jobs to an area previously over-dependent on seasonal tourism and the rural economy.
And while this newspaper remains sceptical about the unhelpful stance taken by Tory minister Jake Berry over the One Yorkshire devolution deal, he does appear to understand the importance of the Northern Powerhouse agenda that is integral to his remit.
This was reflected by Mr Berry’s passionate speech to MPs on Monday night when he urged people – and leaders – across the North to “lay aside our differences” so that “no other generation will believe that their best hope and opportunity lie in getting the train to London”. The challenge now is turning this sentiment into practical policies so that this region becomes the place for entrepreneurs to invest.