Work to do as three in ten residents unemployed

Employment in Edinburgh is below the national average for the first time
Employment in Edinburgh is below the national average for the first time
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The recession has robbed Edinburgh of 14,000 jobs, startling new figures have revealed.

At the end of last year, 240,000 residents of the Capital were in employment, which is 14,000 – or six per cent – lower than the post-slump days of late 2007. It means that three in every ten people are not in employment in the city.

The rate of jobs decline in Edinburgh, which has been hit hard by losses in the banking sector, is twice the rate of the Scottish average.

The city’s employment rate – at 70.4 per cent – is now lower than the Scottish average for the first time on record.

But there are signs that job losses have slowed down, with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance stabilising in recent months.

Graham Bell, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “Given the scale of some of the disaster stories we have heard about the world economy in recent weeks, this in itself, while a decline, is a relatively small decline.

“There are other factors to play, one of which is increased numbers going into self-employment, further education or leaving the city – 30,000 have come in in recent years from EU accession states and they show a tendency to come and go as the economy shifts.

“Anybody in the present climate that felt we were doing really well would be kidding themselves: times are tough but there are signs new businesses are now coming through and we have seen positive signs in the last few months.”

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “There are many possible explanations for Edinburgh’s fall in employment, not all of which are negative.

“Like everywhere in Scotland, businesses have been laying off employees, but we know that many people are choosing voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

“Edinburgh also has a very high proportion of students, many of whom work under 15 hours a week and so are not classified as ‘economically active’.

“With fewer jobs available, more school leavers are choosing to go into further education, and graduates are also increasingly taking on further qualifications. Of course, much was made of Edinburgh’s reliance on the banking sector and the impact that the economic downturn would have on the city’s jobs market but, thanks to the likes of Virgin Money and Tesco Finance choosing to base their operations here, the net effect has been negligible.”

Meanwhile, 14 projects that help to get people back into work received a boost today with news that the council will continue funding them until at least next April.

The projects, which have received £743,476 a year in grants, had faced losing all funding because of changes to the Fairer Scotland Fund by the Scottish Government.

Among those to benefit are Barnardo’s NETWorks project, Action for Children’s Craigmillar Youthbuild, and CREATE’s Craigmillar Business Incubator.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com

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