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Employment

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the likely effects of the recession on levels of employment in (a) rural and (b) urban areas. (265295)

The Department does not forecast levels of employment or unemployment. We have not yet assessed the impact of the recession on employment rates at local authority district level. Although employment data are available by local authority districts, these data come from the Annual Population Survey (APS) and will be susceptible to sample fluctuation. We use the APS for sub-regional analysis because it has a larger sample size and is more robust at a sub-regional level than the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

In addition, the latest APS data available at present cover October 2007 to September 2008, so it does not provide an up-to-date assessment of the impact of the recession. As a short term indicator we think that the best measure to use is the claimant count.

Analysis of claimant count data between February 2008 and February 2009 by local authority district shows that local authority districts that can be classified as rural have experienced larger percentage increases in the claimant count, but in absolute terms these areas tend to have a lower proportion of their working age population claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), and on average the percentage point increase in the proportion of working age residents claiming JSA is similar across rural and urban areas.

We will continue to monitor the impact of the recession across the country and for different types of area.

The percentage increase in claimant count, average claimant count rate, and the percentage point increase in claimant count rate for local authority districts in England aggregated according to DEFRA's classification is shown in the table.

Local authority classification

Average claimant count Rate (Feb 08)

Average claimant count rate (Feb 09)

Percentage point increase in average claimant count rate (Feb 08 -09)

Percentage increase in claimant count (February 08-09)

Major Urban

2.5

4.0

1.5

54

Large Urban

2.1

3.8

1.7

71

Other Urban

2.2

4.1

1.9

85

Significant Rural

1.6

3.2

1.6

98

Rural - 50

1.5

3.1

1.6

109

Rural - 80

1.3

2.7

1.4

106

Source:

NOMIS