Unemployment data shows stark inequality across Yorkshire, with Hull and Bradford bearing the brunt of job losses

The sincerity of the leveling-up agenda has been called into question by a Hull MP after the impact of coronavirus on employment in the region was made clear.

More than 600,000 jobs were lost between March and May. Picture: PA

Both Hull and Bradford were ranked among the worst 15 cities in the country for the biggest increases in unemployment claims since lockdown began, analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data by the Centre for Cities has revealed.

The two cities both saw a rise in the number of claimants by 3.9 per cent between March and May - a total increase of more than 19,000 new claimants.

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Hull also had the second highest proportion of people claiming unemployment benefits overall - with 16,425 claimants, showing a 9.8 per cent rise in May.

Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint. Credit - Anna McGrane Photography

Bradford was not far behind at fourth, with 29,970 or a 9.1 per cent increase.

The stark divide of the social inequality affecting the region was also evident in that, at the opposite end of the scale, York saw the smallest increase in new claimants across the entirety of the UK from March to May - with a 2.3 per cent rise.

Across the UK, workers on company payrolls slumped by more than 600,000 between March and May and unemployment claims soared by 1.6 million.Labour MP for Hull East, Karl Turner said the figures showed the “devastating impact” covid-19 had had on Hull’s economy.

“It is heart-breaking to see so many people out of work,” he said. “This is further proof, if more were needed, that the Government need to make good on their promise to do 'whatever it takes' to protect livelihoods.

“Hull is one of eight Northern cities and towns in the ten highest claimant areas - the Government have much, much more to do if they are sincere in their pledge to build a Northern Powerhouse and 'level-up'."

Centre for Cities’ chief executive Andrew Carter said: “The economic effects of Coronavirus are not felt equally everywhere and we see this even within Yorkshire: while York has seen the smallest increase in unemployment since lockdown began, Hull’s has been among the highest.

“A one-size-fits-all approach won’t be enough to help places like Hull recover from the impact of lockdown – a tailored plan is needed. The Government should also be cautious about how it winds down the furlough scheme. In addition to having the second highest share of adults claiming unemployment benefits, one in four workers in Hull have been furloughed. If this support is withdrawn too quickly it could make a bad situation worse.”

The ONS figures show that nationally, there had been an increase of almost a third in the number of young claimants between April and May this year - but the figure has more than doubled since January.

Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, which supports 150 people in Bradford, has warned the the country is in "uncharted territory" with an unprecedented number of young people claiming universal credit.

Chief executive Seyi Obakin that statistics were “confirmation that young people will be amongst the hardest hit” when it comes to the economic impact of coronavirus.

Brandon Cavill, 22, has been unemployed since December and has been living at Centrepoint’s hostel in Bradford for five months. He told The Yorkshire Post the job hunting had been hampered by lockdown.

“Initially I thought I’d only be here for two months, get a job, and find my own place,” he said. “I have searched for jobs online, but it would be much easier to be able to go out in person and speak to employers and show them what I can do - that’s impossible at the moment.”

Caution to avoid second wave

The York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the Government should focus on avoiding “a second wave of unemployment” as the furlough scheme begins to unwind.

Head of Economics, Dave Innes, said: ”That should include creating jobs, particularly in places that have seen the biggest increases in unemployment, as well as giving people opportunities to gain new skills to help them navigate a rapidly changing jobs market."