51% increase in unemployment in York

The latest claimant count figures for York show a total of 4995 residents now unemployed. This represents 3.6% of the population.

Perhaps not surprisingly – given the health restrictions – unemployment has increased by 51% compared to this time last year.

York’s employment rate, however, remains higher than either the regional or national averages.

The figures do not include those who are on “furlough”. It will become clearer in the autumn how many of these jobs will be sustained into the future. The country is now in recession (economy shrinking), so recovery may be slow.

In York the important visitor economy is slowly improving. Traders will be hoping that this trend is sustained in the important period up to the new year.

After that, things are less predictable with the roll out of an effective conronavirus vaccine likely to be a key driver of any recovery.

How many will lose their jobs in York?

Post COVID-19 economic recovery plans

The Council has revealed that its forecast financial deficit for the current year is around £3.9 million. However, the biggest potential hit on its finances comes from a forecast £16 million loss of Business Rate and Council Tax income. This would be the result of businesses closing and unemployment rising.

The Council has still not identified how expenditure savings may be made nor has it attempted to reduce interest charge payments by trimming its capital programme.

The  York Council economic development  report says how it plans to help the York economy recover from the ravages of lock-down. It updates a previous plan which was criticised for a lack of identified actions, targets, and milestones.

The report says that the impact of the COVID lock down has varied across sectors but is most significant where “serving customers face-to-face is at the heart of the business model – retail, hospitality, cultural attractions and personal services”.

One aspect to the report which may cause concern is the lack of clarity on the medium-term impact on unemployment in the City. It highlights the view of the Local Enterprise Partnership which forecasts the loss of “17,500 jobs, including 6,500 in tourism and 2,400 in retail”. If true, then York would go from having almost full employment to a record 15% level.

The report says that around 15,000 people currently work in the care sector in York.

An alternative forecast, from Oxford Economics, says that if a vaccine is rolled out in 2020 then there will be a  swift return to full employment. A core (more likely) forecast, based on re-openings on the current timetable and gradual lifting of all restrictions, suggests that employment will continue to grow in York despite the impact of the pandemic.

Only a second wave, and renewed lockdowns in autumn 2020, would result in permanent losses of around 3900 jobs.

So it seems, like the population as a whole, the Council doesn’t know what will happen next. The report concludes “What we are already seeing is sharp increases in benefits claims, and we need to plan for at least a short-term spike in job losses”.

Against that background it is possible to have some sympathy for the Council as they decide their short term economic recovery strategy.

One of the few measurable actions arising from the report is a request to central government for a business support grant of £15 million (possibly £10 million depending on which paragraph of the report you read, 51 or 60).

The council will also ask for £10 million for skills training.

Mostly the 1 year plan though is “talking”, “developing”, “working with”, “lobbying” and “facilitating”.

NB. The Council has revealed details of some of its visitor marketing plans. . As reported yesterday, £100,000 will be spent on marketing over the next 5 months.

York Council’s visitor economy plans

Coronavirus York updates; 5th July 2020

Test results and deaths

The government has revised its stats to show an additional positive test result in the York area on 29th June. This took the cumulative total to 899.

There has still not been any comment from the authorities about the success or otherwise of the contact tracing process in the local area. The next meeting of the York Councils “outbreak management board” is not due to take place for another week.

The cumulative total of deaths at York Trust hospitals remains at 214.

Where is the plan?

Some traders are reporting that takings yesterday were down compared to the previous Saturday.

The Council has been criticised for multiple failures with its parking strategy. It appears that the “phone only” 2 hours free parking was not applied if a shopper tried to pay for an extra hour (they were liable to be billed at full rate for the first 2 hours).

As we said when the scheme first started it was simply to complicated to be understood by casual visitors (even assuming that they had downloaded the mobile RingGo parking app).

Key shoppers car parks like Castle & Marygate were excluded from the scheme.

The Council compounded the problem by saying that the Castle car park would be closed, but without saying when. (They need to forget that idea for at least 12 months. This would give the City centre economy time to recover and for alternatives to become established)

Some traders have suggested that there should be free parking at all car parks from 3:00pm each day. That would at least have the merit of being understandable (and would also help the evening economy).

Shop Local - Serving the WI & IL State Line Area

The Councils’ preferred alternative transport mode – cycling- still suffers from a lack of secure parking. This is also an acute issue at some suburban shopping locations.

The provision of additional “social distancing” space – at the expense of highways and car parking – has been largely random. In most cases like Marygate car park the provision has mostly been ignored by users.

In others, contraflow cycle lanes have introduced additional hazards.

All in all then, the lack of a thought through recovery strategy is becoming of more concern each day.

Marketing alone will not be enough.

In an occasional lucid moment the York Council has displayed some advertising flair. Not least with the widely applauded “Don’t be a Tosser” anti litter campaign.

They may also say that people are right to be very cautious about visiting busy locations. They would be right in saying that safety must come first.

But that doesn’t excuse the absence of a 3 – 6 month revitalisation strategy.

Press Archives - Keep Streets Live!

As regulations allow; arts, music, poetry, comedy and sports should come to open spaces throughout the City. Sub-urban areas and villages must be included. Most shops, takeaways, restaurants and hairdressers in those areas have now reopened.

They – like the arts – have had little support from the authorities.

A festival atmosphere would provide a huge lift for the morale of residents and visitors alike. It should encompass large visitor magnets like the Minster, Museums and Guildhalls.

But it does needs to start quickly now.

York Council aims to boost small business economy

With hardly a day going by without another retailer or café announcing the closure of premises in York City centre, the council will review its regeneration plans next week.

Last year £300,000 was allocated to promote what was styled as an “Inclusive Growth Initiatives Fund”. It was aimed at making sure that everyone could benefit from a strong local economy.

An update  report published yesterday says that the York economy is performing strongly. There are now more people in work than ever before, and average wages are higher than the rest of the region. 14,000 work in high skilled jobs.

Details can be found by clicking here

Eight initiatives were identified for investment and financial allocations are now being proposed

  • Establishing a York Poverty Commission: (similar to one operating in Leeds). £20k
  • Community hubs as drivers of economic growth (There are a hubs operating in Foxwood and Chapelfields): £40k
  • Greening our retail estate: £70k
  • Community jobs fairs: £30k
  • 14+ vocational training and work: £50k
  • Independent retail growth fund (using the success of the Bishy Road Traders campaign as a model): £40k
  • Mental health, wellbeing and employment: £25k
  • York Economic Strategy consultation: £25k

The Council report concludes, “Inclusive growth cannot have neighbourhoods that are left behind, opportunities that are only selectively available, or a two-tier economy where some people are doing well at the expense of others who are not”.

That may be good news for the poorer parts of York who feel that the quality of public services available locally has deteriorated in recent years.  

This is not least a result of the York Council being stubbornly insensitive to the effect that  closing leisure and sports facilities is having on vulnerable communities.

York Industrial Strategy

A report being considered today says that “York’s compact size, competing demand for site/land uses and the historic nature of the city’s traditional core means that green- and brownfield opportunities for commercial development are limited.

Nevertheless, major regeneration opportunities such as York Central and The Guildhall, as well as the Hudson Quarter development, offer sizeable growth opportunities for York’s economy”.

The comment is in response to what the government describes as “local industrial strategy”.

The report goes on to identify the strengths of he York economy

York’s economy is diverse and rapidly growing with the city witnessing the fastest productivity growth of any area in the region since 2012. The York Council has identified five key growth sectors based on existing strengths and assets. These are:

  • Rail engineering and technology;
  • Digital and ICT;
  • Financial and professional services;
  • University-led innovation and training; and,
  • Bio-tech (particularly at start-up phase).

“it is important that these sector strengths are supported to prosper, as well as the city’s lower-paid, high volume industries (retail, hospitality, tourism and health and social care)”

The York and North Yorkshire strategy is summarised as inclusive growth, the use of digital technology to transform York and North Yorkshire into a ‘Smart region’.

The Leeds City Region – which includes York – priorities are:

Supporting businesses to meet the challenges of the future economy and create good quality jobs, to support progression and promote inclusivity;

  • Accelerating economic growth across the City Region through technology and innovation;
  • Building on the successes of our globally important healthcare sector as a source of good jobs and growth;
  • Making sure our environment promotes healthy, active lifestyles and is fit for future generations to enjoy; and,
  • Skilled people, in good jobs, with access to training to help build and sustain their careers

The “strategy” is due to be discussed at a meeting being held in York later today

National data shows York workers’ wages up 13% in the last year

Figures out today (29 October) report a 13% increase in average weekly earnings for York workers* over the last year, according to government data.

The national government Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) – the most accurate way of estimating pay – showed that the average weekly earnings for York residents also rose from £512.60 in 2018 to £574. 60; an increase of 12%.

The wage increase in York compares favourably to other areas across the UK, with pay across the country increasing by 2.8%; a 1.9% increase for Leeds residents and an increase of 3.5% across the Leeds City Region.

The figures correct the impression of a significant dip last year.

We pointed out in March that this figure was probably wrong and so it has proved to be.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, City of York Council, said:

“These figures are welcome news for the city, though like any statistics they only show part of the picture. Looking at the data over the last five years shows, since 2015, a 16 % increase in the wages of both residents and people working in York.

This is good news for everyone in the city and shows the inherent strength of York’s economy”.

*York workers are people working in the city, not necessarily those who live in the city (York residents)

City of York Council and Jobcentre Plus offering support to SuperBreak staff

City of York Council and Jobcentre Plus are teaming up to help promote the support on offer to York-based SuperBreak employees, made redundant, when the firm went into administration last week.

This includes helping those affected with tailored support, including how to write a great CV and with interviewing skills, while jobseekers are notified of new employment opportunities in the locality.

York remains a highly sought after location for investment and the council has a strong track record of working alongside business to create new employment opportunities that supports a strong and vibrant economy.

City of York Council jobs are advertised at www.york.gov.uk/jobs

Many unfilled job vacancies in York

Latest unemployment figures show only 1.3%  are out of work in York.

This is significantly below the national figure of 2.7%.

There are 676 York job vacancies registered on the governments “find a job” website today. Some have been unfilled for several months now. The number of vacancies exceeds the number of people claiming job seekers allowance (550).

The latest Job Density figures available confirm that there were more jobs available than in other parts of the country

  • York 0.89
  • Yorkshire 0.81
  • Great Britain 0.86

!Density figures represent the ratio of total jobs to population aged 16-65)

Most York jobs these days are in the retail, tourism, education and social care sectors.

The high number of job vacancies is likely to inhibit growth prospects for the York economy

“Make it York” reports financial progress

The Make it York organisation, which is partly funded by York taxpayers, is reporting that it has made a £140,714 profit so far this year.  That is £71,900 above budget expectations

They currently have a balance sheet surplus of £330,000

The organisation reports that it had a successful Christmas and claims “continuing strong performance from Shambles Market, City Centre Activities and Visit York Membership”

No detail is provided on the Shambles market performance.

The brief report to a “shareholder “ meeting also says that the “York Pass” initiative has been less successful than hoped.

Looking to the future the report says, “MIY currently runs or facilitates a range of events which animate the public realm and make the city vibrant and interesting for visitors and residents. There is scope though to use the “stage” provided to do, and to facilitate, a great deal more, the ultimate objective being to ensure a daily “wow” factor

Jobs and wages in York

Figures published by ONS last month on wage levels in the city caused a panic with some commentators.

The figures suggested that median wage levels in the City had fallen by 9.4% compared to the previous year.

But had they?

According to ONS gross wages were £384.10. The previous year – on the back of an unlikely 5.6% increase – the median wage had been £423.80?

So had workers really seen a £40 a week drop in earnings?

If so, what went wrong?

Most people seem to have forgotten that the published figures are provisional. The final figures will not be available until later in the year. The figures are based on a sample of returns from employers. The sample size changes. ONS advised caution in using short term figures to demonstrate a trend.

As well as the reduction in wages, the ONS figures also say that the City also saw a drop of 3000 in the number of jobs.  Against the background of a record high (and stable) number in employment in the York, that alone suggests a sampling error.

Looking beyond gross pay, a further breakdown indicates that the fall had mainly been down to a reduction in overtime payments. Given the uncertainty in the market as a result of BREXIT, it would not be surprising if there was a slowing down in economic activity. Less overtime would be an obvious symptom of a more cautious approach to investment

However, the most likely explanation for the blip, is that the figures are just plain wrong!

Source ONS