10,000 Wakefield residents could be out of work 'by end of the year'

An estimated 10,000 people in the Wakefield district could be out of work by the end of the year, a public meeting's been told.

By David Spereall
Friday, 25th September 2020, 4:45 pm
The new jobs support scheme may not be enough to prevent a steep rise in unemployment.
The new jobs support scheme may not be enough to prevent a steep rise in unemployment.

The gloomy prediction is based on a forecast that around nine per cent of the local workforce could be without jobs at Christmas, as businesses struggle to cope with new coronavirus restrictions.

Despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing a new job support scheme on Wednesday to help top up wages of some workers and more freedom for businesses with debt, unemployment is still expected to rise significantly.

A worst case scenario prediction by Experian published this month suggested unemployment could rise above 15 per cent in Wakefield next year if there's a second lockdown.

Speaking at a health and wellbeing board meeting on Thursday, Wakefield Council officer Mike Denby said that the 48,000 local people who'd been furloughed during lockdown made up around a third of the district's workforce.

He said: "There's been some new announcements today by the Chancellor and that's been welcomed by businesses and the local authority.

"That will give businesses breathing space to bring their staff back full time if they've been furloughed."

But he added: "When we're looking at unemployment rates, this time last year it was around four per cent. We expect it to be around nine per cent by the end of this year.

"That would be around 10,000 residents out of work based on projections."

Mr Denby said that new curbs introduced by the government this week presented hurdles for some local businesses in the hospitality sector, with some bars struggling to afford the staff to provide table service.

He added: "We can't forget the events industry, or some nightclubs and late-night bars that haven't been open at all since March."

Speaking earlier this month, when the forecast of 15 per cent unemployment in Wakefield was revealed, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce chief Martin Hathaway said he feared the prediction may prove accurate.

"I'd love to say otherwise but I think it's a fair assumption," he said.

"When you get to about 15 per cent then that's going back to the levels of the early 1980s."

Local Democracy Reporting Service