THINGS are looking up, after employment figures for the Chichester district were revealed today (July 16).
Punching well above the national average, the number of 16 to 64-year-old in work in the district is 5.8 per cent higher than the UK average.
A total of 78.9 per cent of 16 to 64-year-olds are employed in the district, compared to 73.1 per cent nationally.
Figures also revealed there are 1.04 jobs for everyone of working age in the district, compared with much lower figures in surrounding areas.
The Arun District reports a figure of 0.62 jobs per person and Worthing has a ratio of 0.86 jobs per person.
The only district in West Sussex which has a higher ratio than Chichester is Crawley, which has 1.2 jobs for every working person.
Steve Wood of Job Centre Plus, who covers the Coastal West Sussex area, said nationally an extra one-million people were in work compared to last year.
“The employment rate has never been higher,” he said.
“The South East employment rate is higher. There are more people in private sector employment and apprenticeships are up by ten to 11 per cent in the compared to last year.”
He said 117,000 people in the South East are currently in apprenticeships.
“It is very much a drive now, to get people into apprenticeships,” said Mr Wood.
The amount of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in the Chichester district has dropped by 30 per cent in the last year, from 1,100 claimants in June 2013, to just 778 people.
He said young people were a ‘primary concern’ for the Job Centre, but the number of JSA claimants between 18 and 24-years-old has dropped from 240 to 140 people in just one year.
“With the 18 to 24 group we put a lot of resources and effort into helping them,” said Mr Wood.
Another positive figure, he said 92 per cent of those on JSA in the district are on the benefit for under 12 months.
“We work closely with Chichester College and local authorities around worklessness for all age groups.
“A lot more young people are going into apprenticeships than ever before.
“Over the next year we are going to continue that drive to make people understand apprenticeships are available for all age groups.
“They do enable people to go in to more of a career rather than just working in on and off employment.”
On why Chichester figures are well above the national average for employment figures, Mr Wood said: “Chichester is a buoyant labour market. It is a place where there are always vacancies for jobs, if only because of the city centre. We have got new restaurants and shops coming in. Then you get other employers like Rolls Royce for example.
“We do have a small issue with the rural areas. We cover right up to the other side of Petworth. Transport can be an issue.”
The unemployment rate reported in the Chichester district is 4.2 per cent of people at a working age.
On top of that, 15.7 per cent of working age people are classed as ‘economically inactive’, which includes stay-at-home mums or people on incapacity benefits.
Only 1.6 per cent of working people in the district are claimants of JSA.
For reaction to the news and an in-depth analysis, see next week’s Observer (July 24).