Unemployment is an important indicator of the state of the economy. There are several measures which can be used to show levels of unemployment and economic inactivity:
Claimant count – This shows the number of people who are out of work and claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is often expressed as a rate. Data is published monthly.
Unemployment rate – Often called the ILO unemployment rate, this measure assesses the number of jobless people who want to work, are available to work and are actively seeking employment. This measure is usually higher than the claimant rate as not all people looking for work are either eligible or choose to claim JSA. Data is published quarterly.
Economic inactivity – This is a broader measure of people who are economically inactive for a range of reasons, including students, people who are unable to work due to illness, retired people and those looking after family/ home. Data is published quarterly.
In July 2016, 0.6% of people in Somerset aged 16-64 were claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). Taunton Deane has the highest claimant rate in Somerset (0.9%) and Mendip, Sedgemoor and West Somerset all have the lowest with 0.4%.
Somerset has a consistently lower claimant rate than the UK and Heart of the South West LEP area. Somerset’s claimant rate is steadily declining.
ILO unemployment in Somerset stood at 3.9% in June 2016, lower than the Heart of the South West LEP area (4.0%) and the UK as a whole (5.2%). Somerset’s unemployment rate has fallen over the last year (0.7%). Available data shows Mendip has the highest unemployment rate of all the districts (5.7%).
Somerset’s unemployment rate is consistently lower than the national level. After peaking at 8% in December 2010, the general trend has been downwards but fluctuations in the last year show the rate increasing slightly and then falling. Over the same period, the UK unemployment rate remained constant, with signs of a declining trend from September 2013.
Somerset’s economic inactivity rate is lower than nationally. Mendip has the highest proportion of economically inactive residents (23.5%), closely followed by Sedgemoor (20.6%) and West Somerset (18.2%). South Somerset has the lowest economic inactivity rate (17.5%). West Somerset (46.8%) and Sedgemoor (41%) has the highest proportion of economically inactive persons who want a job.