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Economic bulletin

COVID-19 has been devasting for economies across the country.  The economic support measures that we have put in place in Staffordshire as a partnership, alongside those made by government, have had a positive impact, but the next few months will be challenging.

Despite the challenges ahead, Staffordshire can still achieve its potential as a thriving powerhouse economy on the international stage by not just recovering, but renewing. Our five-year Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy (2.4 MB) outlines how we will seek to make this happen. To effectively respond to those challenges we must all be able to see behind the headlines and understand the full picture - the monthly Economic Bulletin does just that.

Latest edition

Edition 24 (2.65 MB)

Welcome to the latest edition of the Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Economic Bulletin produced by our Economy, Skills and Insight Teams, which provides the timeliest secondary data available on what is happening with the local economy.  However, this clearly only provides part of the picture and we continue to build up our softer intelligence to provide a better indication of what is happening on the ground, including the local response to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent recovery.

Alongside information on the Claimant Count and Job Vacancies that will be a part of every Bulletin, this month’s issue also provides more detailed youth claimant count analysis and updated ward level analysis of the claimant count to help identify areas which have been impacted the hardest across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent and where there may be a greater need for support. We also provide analysis of the latest business insolvency data to further understand how businesses have been impacted by COVID.

We hope you find the Bulletin useful and welcome your comments and suggestions on further information you would like to see included in future editions.  If you do have any feedback please send your comments to Darren Farmer, Economy & Skills Analyst at darren.farmer@staffordshire.gov.uk.

Stay Safe,

Darryl Eyers

Director for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Staffordshire County Council

Key messages from edition 24

  • Over the last month we saw the Prime Minister resign, with the Conservative party leadership race now underway.
  • The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has seen a surge in cases and hospitalisations across the UK, however there many be early signs that infections may be peaking.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that all over-50s will be offered a COVID-19 booster jab this autumn.
  • The COVID inquiry has now opened, with the warning that it will take time and have a significant cost.
  • The rate of inflation continued to rise reaching a 40-year high of 9.4 per cent in June.
  • In June an estimated 2.1 million households missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card or bill.
  • Latest energy bill forecasts show that the typical gas and electricity bill could reach more than £3,300 a year this winter and further next year.
  • Cost pressures come at a time when pay is falling at the fastest rate since records began, in real terms (adjusted for inflation), over the year, total pay fell by 0.9% and regular pay fell by 2.8%.
  • The UK economy rebounded in May after shrinking in April and March, figures show that the economy grew by 0.5 per cent during the month.
  • The pound is heading for its biggest six-month drop against the US dollar since 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum.
  • The UK’s national debt is on an “unsustainable path” unless taxes are raised and spending is tightened, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
  • A number of national strikes have been announced including rail workers, train drivers, royal mail managers, BT staff with potential further strikes in the public sector including NHS staff and doctors.
  • The Government’s flagship £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund has been delayed.
  • There are lingering business issues including commodity costs, wage pressures and supply-chain constraints and persistent labour market challenges leading to decreased turnover.
  • The overall number of company insolvencies are 40% higher than in the same month last year and 15% higher than three years previously (pre-pandemic).
  • Between October to December 2019 and January to March 2022, homeworking in the UK more than doubled from 4.7 million to 9.9 million people.
  • Alongside trading issues, labour market challenges continue to persist with declining unemployment and job vacancies are at record levels leading to an incredibly tight labour market with employers’ findings it difficult to recruit the talent that they need to aid economic recovery.
  • The UK employment rate increased by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter to 75.9%, but is still below pre-pandemic level.
  • Payrolled employees for June 2022 shows a monthly increase, up 31,000 on the revised May 2022 figures, to a record 29.6 million.
  • The unemployment rate for March to May 2022 decreased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 3.8%.
  • The economic inactivity rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 21.1% in March to May 2022.
  • The number of job vacancies in April to June 2022 rose to 1,294,000. However, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down.
  • A landmark court judgment has ruled the Government's net-zero strategy is in breach of the law due to it not explaining how targets will be met.
  • House prices in the UK rose at the fastest rate for 18 years last month as demand continues to outweigh the low number of properties for sale.
  • Looking locally, the claimant count in Staffordshire saw a further decline of 180 claimants between May and June 2022 to a total of 14,390 claimants, this was a 1.2% decrease which was slightly greater than the 1.1% decline seen nationally.
  • The claimant rate now stands at 2.7% of the working age population in June compared to 4.9% regionally and 3.8% nationally.
  • The further decline in claimants seen during June continues the County’s long-term labour market recovery with declining work-related benefit claimants reflective of the strong and resilient local economy and the record number of job vacancies currently available across the full economy, with more local residents finding employment in areas of demand to aid the recovery from the pandemic. There remain clear opportunities for more people in a number of our priority and locally important sectors such as manufacturing, construction, logistics, health & social care and hospitality.
  • The total number of Universal Credit (UC) claimants is now 19.4% or 2,340 higher than the level seen in March 2020 (pre-COVID) - however, not all will be out of work as there will be some that are underemployed.
  • As with the claimant count overall, this month the youth claimant count in Staffordshire saw a decrease of 55 to a total of 2,400 young people which for the first time is now 15 below the pre-pandemic level which is in contrast to the regional and national picture where youth claimants remain above the pre-pandemic position. This is reflective of the many job vacancies currently available to young people across Staffordshire. However, the proportion of young people in Staffordshire aged 18-24 that are claiming work-related Universal Credit currently stands at 3.7% compared to 2.7% for the working age population.
  • Staffordshire saw job vacancies remain the same between May and June at around 15,700, which shows that there are now more vacancies than work related benefit claimants. Stoke-on-Trent saw a 7% rise in vacancies equivalent to just over 360 more job vacancies to a total of over 5,800 which is lower than the number of claimants. Clearly, there continues to be high demand for labour and skills across most parts of the economy to aid the recovery from the pandemic.
  • The occupations to see the most significant increases during June include roles in sectors experiencing recruitment difficulties such as health and social care, logistics and hospitality. However, even with these changes in recruitment during the last month, demand for roles in health and social care including care workers and home carers and nurses remain by far the strongest of all occupations.
  • However, the increase in job vacancies to record levels is resulting in further reports of labour and skills shortages with not enough skilled workers to fill the vacant jobs, especially in digital/IT roles, social care (both adults and children), hospitality such as chefs, waiting and bar staff, logistics, retail, haulage HGV drivers, and engineering. This has the potential to slow down the recovery unless the skills gap is quickly and effectively addressed, clearly skills providers, the Government’s Plan for Jobs including the Kickstart and Restart schemes, new Skills Bootcamps and Way to Work have a vital role in upskilling and reskilling jobseekers into areas of demand.
  • It is clear that there continue to be a very high number of jobs available in the local economy and the need now is to ensure that there is a strong local labour pool with skilled workers able to fill these roles to support business recovery and improve their own prosperity through better pay. The national and local support which is in place to support those that have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs is vital in both reskilling and upskilling as well as enabling them to access the opportunities available. Also encouraging those that have become economically inactive due to COVID will further help to address the labour and skills gap.
  • There are also clear emerging opportunities for job creation in digital (including online retail and e-commerce) and the green economy (including retrofitting homes to improve energy efficiency, electric cars e.g. Jaguar Land Rover and hydrogen e.g. JCB).
  • We will also look to build on our existing strengths including engineering and advanced manufacturing through the adoption of AI, Automation and Machine Learning, construction to achieve Government house building targets and build major new infrastructure projects such as HS2 and West Midlands Freight Interchange, and advanced logistics with the ecommerce and online retail boom such as the recent announcement of ASOS’s decision to build a £90million distribution centre creating 2,000 jobs close to Cannock and Tamworth were jobs will be very much needed and Pets At Home in Stafford.
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses that have been turned down by other lenders can now apply to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund, supporting businesses to grow through affordable, unsecured loans from £10,000 to £50,000. To find out more visit here.
  • Applications for Staffordshire Means Back to Business Scheme business loans and grants remain open to small businesses in Staffordshire.
  • Alongside this there is support available through the Growth Hub and we have our start-up schemes and the Redundancy and Recruitment Triage Service.
  • To ensure residents have access to the support needed to find employment there are several employment and skills programmes which they can access including the Kickstart Scheme, Restart Scheme and skills bootcamps.
  • In conclusion, we are still in the midst of a fifth wave of COVID-19 with high infections and hospitalisations, although there are potentially some early signs that the wave may be peaking. Thankfully deaths remain comparatively low and vaccine booster for the most vulnerable during autumn will hopefully help further protect against further loss of life.
  • The cost-of-living crisis continues to be the most pressing matter for many with inflation continuing to rise leading to increasingly difficult decisions for low-income families and the most vulnerable in our society. This is changing consumer behaviour which is impacting business sales and leading to rapidly rising bill payment defaulting, debt, evictions and child poverty, alongside increasing issues related to mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse. Although Government support such as reduced National Insurance, direct cost-of-living payments and the Help for Households scheme are welcomed many feel that it does not go far enough given the increased forecast for energy prices this winter and declining wages.
  • Positively the UK economy rebounded in May with growth in services, production and construction, however this may be short-lived with the pound weakening and a series of national strikes likely to impact economic activity during the summer. There is also concern about rising interest rates leading to unsustainable national debt and many potentially struggling with mortgage repayments. While levelling up funding has been delayed and is seen by many as lower than is actually needed to achieve true levelling up across the country.
  • Commodity price inflation, supply chain issues, diminished consumer confidence and workforce shortages remain the biggest business concerns, with significant numbers of businesses struggling to survive as turnover declines. The way in which many businesses operate has clearly been permanently impacted by the pandemic with homeworking more than doubling, raising concerns about the feasibility of large office space in the new normal world of work.
  • Positively unemployment continues to decline and there are record job vacancies available to those looking for work, however this is creating an increasingly tight labour market with many businesses struggling to recruitment the labour and skills that they require to grow. There is particular concern within the health and social care sector, with the NHS and social care facing a workforce crisis to address the backlog caused by the pandemic and meet growing demand from an ageing population.
  • It is vital that additional support such as the Staffordshire Means Back to Business Programme is utilised to help businesses transition to new business models including diversification, digitisation and greenification to improve their viability and sustainability.
  • Alongside this the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ schemes such as Kickstart, Restart and Skills Bootcamps have an important role to play in ensuring that local residents have the skills and training needed within the local economy to support increased growth, productivity, and prosperity. Reskilling and upskilling residents from declining sectors into priority growth areas of the economy such as digital, green, advanced manufacturing, advanced logistics, construction, and health and social care will be key.

Earlier editions

Edition 1 (1.63 MB)

Edition 2 (996 KB)

Edition 3 (987 KB) 

Edition 4 (1.1 MB)

Edition 5 (1.2 MB)

Edition 6 (1.1 MB)

Edition 7 (1.6 MB)

Edition 8 (1.4 MB)

Edition 9 (2.1 MB) 

Edition 10 (1.6 MB)

Edition 11 (2 MB)

Edition 12 (2 MB)

Edition 13 (1.55 MB)

Edition 14 (2.2 MB)

Edition 15 (1.57 MB)

Edition 16 (2.14 MB)

Edition 17 (2.64 MB)

Edition 18 (2.33 MB)

Edition 19 (3.43 MB)

Edition 20 (3.3 MB)

Edition 21 (2.1 MB)

Edition 22 (2.3 MB)

Edition 23 (2.76 MB)

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