About the data
Unemployment across the country has returned to the level seen before the financial crisis. In Devon, a spike in unemployment in the latter part of 2016 and early part of 2017 has stabilised and fallen back to 1.9%, below the national and regional averages. Interestingly this rise represents the first time in many years that unemployment in Devon has reached the national level, generally trending a percentage point or more below the GB average. Whilst low levels of unemployment are good for standard of living and may push up wages, the smaller labour pool can create skill shortages for businesses, limiting growth.
Exeter has the highest unemployment rate in Devon at 3.4%, typical of an urban area with a large number of job opportunities, and movement between jobs. The lowest unemployment levels in Devon are in the South Hams and West Devon at 2.2%; an older wealthier population and higher rate of economic inactivity helps to keep this low, as well as a highly qualified workforce. Unemployment is unlikely to fall much further with long term, and frictional unemployment responsible for much of the remaining numbers. Targeting the long term unemployed and supporting people into better paid jobs whilst reskilling labour to meet any knowledge gaps in the economy will be important going forward.