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Unemployment in Cornwall is at a three-year high

Unemployment in Cornwall is at a three-year high

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:00am 1st August 2020.

Unemployment has reached a three-year high in Cornwall, new figures reveal, in the first indication of how the coronavirus crisis may have impacted local jobs.

But experts have warned official statistics are downplaying the “grim reality” facing Britain’s economy, as the latest figures showed no change to the national unemployment rate.

New Office for National Statistics figures estimate 9,600 people in Cornwall who are able to and available for work were unemployed in the year to March, up from 7,500 in 2018-19.

At 3.4% of the workforce, that was the highest level since 2016-17.

But the latest national figures, which cover March, April and May, show unemployment was at 3.9% among those aged 16 to 64, the same rate as in the previous three months.


The Resolution Foundation think tank has warned the figures are "failing to show the true extent of Britain's jobs crisis".

This is because the population is split into three groups – employed, unemployed, and economically inactive, with the unemployed category capturing just those people who say they have been actively looking for a job in the past four weeks and would be able to start work within the next two weeks.

Many of those without jobs may have given up looking for work in the current conditions, with those classed as economically inactive rising by a record 253,000 in the three months to May.

“Britain is in the midst of an unprecedented economic shock that is profoundly affecting millions of people’s jobs.

"Unemployment is forecast to hit 4 million for the first time ever. And yet our official data is failing to show the true extent of this jobs crisis.

"Accurate labour market data matters for both public understanding of the crisis we face, and for how Government responds to it.

"It is vital that our national statisticians provide a more accurate picture of what’s happening to people’s jobs – however grim the reality may be."

Mike Brewer, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation

In Cornwall, 63,929 people (19.5% of those aged 16-64) were economically inactive in 2019-20, down from.70,820 (21.6%) in 2018-19.


The Office for Budget Responsibility recently said that Britain could be facing an unemployment rate as high as 13% by 2021.

And a new British Chambers of Commerce report has found almost a third of UK firms (29%) plan to lay off staff over the next three months – a record high for the report, which is carried out every three months.

“Many businesses are suffering from a historic cash crunch and reduced demand, meaning firms will still face tough decisions despite welcome interventions made in the summer statement.

“The Government should consider additional support for employers before the autumn Budget to reduce the overall cost of employment and prevent substantial redundancies.”

Hannah Essex, co-executive director at BCC

“Throughout the pandemic, we have acted with speed to safeguard jobs and incomes, with our support package totalling £160 billion so far.

“The Plan for Jobs announced last week, including the Job Retention Bonus and the new Kickstart Scheme, will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, and to create new jobs in every part of our country.”

Government spokeswoman

You can find all the source data here.

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