William Eichler 16 August 2017

‘Local industrial strategies’ needed to boost employment in cities, think tank says

A think tank has called on the Government to devise ‘local industrial strategies’ in order to tackle unemployment and underemployment in the UK’s major cities.

A new report for the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed 5.3 million people are missing out because of a ‘more and better jobs gap’ across the UK’s 12 major city region areas.

The ‘more jobs gap’ is the number of people who are unemployed, underemployed or inactive because of barriers such as caring or disability, but who would want to work if jobs were available.

The ‘better jobs gap’ refers to workers earning less than the living wage and those on insecure contracts who would prefer permanent contracts.

The Government argues more people are in work than ever before. However, the JRF’s findings reveal many of these jobs are insecure, or are insufficient for meeting people’s needs.

The report discovered that in Manchester and Birmingham more than half a million people are seeking more and better paid work. In Manchester, one in five people who are in the workforce – 291,000 – are in low pay or insecure work.

In Birmingham, 356,000 people are either not working but want to work, or are working but want more hours.

Finally, in Liverpool and Sheffield, two fifths of the workforce are not working but would like to, want more hours, or are trapped in low pay or insecure work. This amounts to 303,000 people in Liverpool and 391,000 people in Sheffield.

‘Britain has enjoyed a jobs miracle and the national picture on jobs is good – more people are in work than ever before,’ said Dave Innes, economist at JRF.

‘But these figures show millions of people across our big cities are missing out on this success and there is still a long way to go.

‘The priority for city leaders and the government is to use the industrial strategy to create the conditions for more and better jobs, and ensure people who have been left behind can find work.’

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