Unemployment in Hertfordshire has more than doubled since start of Covid-19 pandemic
Hertfordshire County Council faces up to economic risk of pandemic
Unemployment in Hertfordshire has more than DOUBLED since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, latest data shows.
And the county council believes one of the most significant risks Hertfordshire now faces is the economic impact of the pandemic.
At the time of the first Covid-19 lockdown – in March 2020 – fewer than 15,000 people in Hertfordshire were unemployed, based on claimant figures.
But latest data presented to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel on Wednesday, June 9, shows that at the end of March this year there were 38,200.
That’s an increase of 165 per cent since March 2020 – meaning that for every 10 people claiming unemployment benefits in March 2020, there were 26.5 in March 2021.
And it’s significantly higher than the 117.2 per cent increase across the whole of England.
The economic impact of the pandemic is now recognised as a ‘severe’ risk to the county in a report presented to the cabinet panel.
“As a result of the global pandemic, the virus has had a damaging impact upon Hertfordshire’s communities and its economy,” says the report.
“Given this there is a risk that future investment in the Hertfordshire economy will be lower, economic growth will be slower and recovery will take longer to achieve affecting the short, medium and longer term, prosperity and wellbeing of Hertfordshire communities.”
According to the data in the report, unemployment rates within Hertfordshire are highest in Watford – where 7.1 per cent of residents (aged 16-64) were claiming employment related benefits in March.
That’s 1.9 percent higher than the county average – and it’s 0.5 per cent higher than the national unemployment rate, of 6.6 per cent.
It means there are 158.1 per cent more claimants in March – that’s more than DOUBLE – compared to rates in Watford 12 months earlier.
The only other district where unemployment rates are currently higher than the national average are in Broxbourne, where there’s an 6.8 per cent claimant rate and a 183 per cent increase in the number of claimants, compared to March 2020.
The largest increase in claimants over the past 12 months was reported to be in East Hertfordshire, where the figure was 237 per cent higher than in March 2020.
However at 4.1 per cent, the claimant rate is still below average for the county and the country.
Across Hertfordshire the county-wide claimant rate (aged 16 to 64) reached 5.2 per cent in March – with the number of claimants 165.8 per cent higher than in March 2020.
Elsewhere in the county, in Dacorum the claimant rate in March was 5.2 per cent – with the number of claimants 171.7 per cent higher than 12 months earlier.
In Hertsmere the rate was 6.1 per cent – with the number of claimants 187.3 per cent higher than last March.
And in North Herts – where claimant levels dipped by 0.1 per cent from February, to 4.4 per cent in March – there was a 153 per cent increase in the number of claimants over the 12 month period.
In St Albans the 3.9 per cent claimant rate continued to be the lowest in Hertfordshire.
It’s also the area of the county where the annual increase in claimants has been lowest, at 139 per cent. But even that is still more than 20 per cent above the national average increase.
In Stevenage the claimant rate in March was 6.2 per cent – up from the 6.1 recorded in February. The number of claimants has risen by 140 per cent since March 2020.
In Three Rivers 4.6 per cent of the population (aged 16-64) were claimants in March. And the figures show the number of claimants has increased in the district by 163 per cent over the past year.
In Welwyn Hatfield the data shows the number of claimants rose by 140.7 per cent between March 2020 and March 2021 – with a claimant rate in March 2020 of 4.7 per cent.