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West Norfolk’s employment rate falls, data shows

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West Norfolk’s employment rate has fallen over the past year, despite rising to record highs in the UK.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the number of people in either part-time or full-time employment in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk fell to 73.9 per cent in the year to March.

West Norfolk Council building now houses King's Lynn Job Centre
West Norfolk Council building now houses King's Lynn Job Centre

This was down one per cent from the previous year, when the rate was at 74.9 per cent.

The data also shows an even faster fall in the neighbouring Breckland district, though levels in North Norfolk have risen significantly during the same period.

The analysis comes as the Government hails record high employment for the UK in the latest quarterly national figures, which cover the period from March to May.

These show employment across the country rising to 75.7 per cent, up by 0.8 per cent from the same quarter a year ago.

Ministers claim that more than three million new jobs have been created since 2010 and there are currently more than 800,000 vacancies nationally.

But, despite those claims, local employment figures show a mixed pictures.

Although district totals are released simultaneously with the national statistics, they only cover the 12 months to March.

In that period, national employment was 74.8 per cent, putting West Norfolk 0.9 percentage points below the national average.

Breckland’s total was even lower, standing at 73.8 per cent in the year to the end of March, down 2.7 per cent from 76.5 per cent in the previous year.

That figure also matches the fall in overall employment across the county from 76.9 per cent to 74.2 per cent.

However, in North Norfolk, the employment rate soared by more than 13 per cent over the same period and now stands at more than 81 per cent.

The working-age population is grouped into three categories by the ONS - employed, unemployed or economically inactive.

This third category includes people who are not looking for a job, such as students or people with an illness or disability.

Of the approximately 87,000-strong working age population - those aged between 16 and 64 - in West Norfolk in 2017/18, 69,000 were employed.

Despite a fall in the employment rate in West Norfolk, unemployment also fell, from 3.7 per cent in 2016/17 to 3.4 per cent in 2017/18.

And when it came to economically inactive people, these made up 24 per cent of West Norfolk’s population in 2017/18, up from 21.6 per cent the previous year.

As well as being below both the county and national levels, West Norfolk’s employment rate is also significantly below the regional average. In the East of England as a whole, 77.6 per cent of people were employed in 2017/18, up from 77.2 per cent the previous year.

Meanwhile, the figure for South Holland, which includes Sutton Bridge, showed a 1.7 per cent fall in employment to 74.3 per cent, although the Lincolnshire-wide rate was up.

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