Slough and Reading lag behind on unemployment, reflecting the continuing existence of relative deprivation in these more heavily-urbanised areas. However joblessness fell across the six local authorities, each showing monthly reductions, with only Slough showing any deviation from the trend as JSA claimant numbers increased by 1.5% compared to 12 months ago.
As Louisa Peacock explains, the variability between unemployment and claimant counts masks changes to the way the labour market functions.
While more people are in work changes to the way figures are measured means the total claimant count also reflect shifts from other forms of welfare, such as incapacity benefit. With public sector cuts expected to bite in the next 12 months, she says, most analysts predict a 5% rise in national unemployment to around 2.6m.
In total there were 13,132 JSA claimants across Berkshire in June 2011. Among local recruitment websites jobsearch aggregator Adzuna was advertising 7,519 workplace vacancies in the county and totaljobs records 3,089 unfilled placements at the time of writing.
Reading East MP Rob Wilson expressed encouragement at the report,
"Reading is continuing its strong economic performance and continues to weather these tough times reasonably well. However, there is no room for complacency, so it is imperative that claimants continue to work together with local organisations such as the Jobcentre Plus, to help them back into work."Yet an underlying threat still remains as the number of young people categorised as NEETs (not in employment, education or training) showed rises in the same period.
Cllr Daisy Benson highlights the positive legacy of increased emphasis on apprenticeships as a key method of improving life chances for young people, but warns that this may be undermined as Reading's new Labour administration have only promised to 'monitor progress' on this front.
Meanwhile, according to Ashley Curtis, the development of improved transport links such as Crossrail will only aid the local picture, giving a boost to the civil engineering sector with the creation of new rail and construction jobs in the area and reducing travel times to and between commercial centres.
This will be particularly significant in the future as Berkshire maintains one of the highest commuter populations in the country. The recently released 2011 Berkshire Economic Assessment complied by Berkshire Observatory shows Reading is also the only net importer of jobs among all neighbouring authorities, a product of the good communication links enjoyed by the would-be city.
Local Authority, JSA Claimants, Unemployment Rate, NEETs
Reading - 3,528 (3.3%), 299
Bracknell - 1,606 (2.1%), 155
Slough - 3,221 (3.7%), 167
West Berkshire - 1,781 (1.8%), n/r
Windsor and Maidenhead - 1,631 (n/r), n/r
Wokingham - 1,365 (1.3%), 155
National unemployment stands at 2.45m (7.7%) according to the ILO Survey, with 1.52m claiming Job Seeeker's Allowance.
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