Today saw the publication of national and local unemployment statistics. As expected, the data make grim reading. It shows people in the local job market have lost their jobs and people hoping to get into employment are struggling to get a job. The latest data for July show that 385 people in Ludlow were claiming employment related benefits. A year ago, just 165 people were claiming. That’s a huge leap for a small town like ours.
In Ludlow, the claimant rate in June was 6.8%. That’s higher that the rate for Great Britain (6.3%) and nearly half as big again as the rate across Shropshire (4.6%).
That’s bad news. Although the doubling of 185 claimants in May to 385 this is undoubtedly down to the Covid-19 epidemic, we must be concerned that local jobs could be lost permanently as the nation’s economy weakens.
The graphs above tell the story. In April this year, the number of Ludlow claimants soared from 185 the month before to 385 – an increase of 50%.
That reflects the lockdown which began in mid-March. The closure of hospitality businesses meant that a lot of short term jobs were scrapped. Some local firms may have shed jobs rather than furloughed staff. Students returning from university could not obtain the bar and restaurant jobs they would normally get in Ludlow.
We must be concerned that the claimant rate in Ludlow is higher than nationally and across Shropshire. We have long had low unemployment in Ludlow. The data released today suggests that we are being hit harder than other areas of the country.
That may be down to the significant contribution that tourism and hospitality makes to the economy of our town but that is probably not the whole picture.
This leap in unemployment cannot be shrugged off as temporary blip. We need to think hard about how to grow our local economy in a world that may have changed forever because of Covid-19.
Data from NOMIS retrieved 11 August 2020.
For this article, Ludlow is defined as the three wards of Ludlow East, Ludlow North and Ludlow South.
The graphs show a gradual increase in claimants from mid-2017. This will be largely due to changes in the way that the claimant count was calculated as Universal Credit replaced Jobseekers Allowance in the Ludlow area.
The claimant data does not include people on furlough.