Ben Houchen has told Tees Business our region has a “new-found confidence that is really driving our economic growth”, after new figures were published showing a record low unemployment rate for the North-East.
New jobs figures show the unemployment rate in the region is at a record low, standing at 4.8%.
It’s the first time the rate has dropped below 5% since records began, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Speaking at the official launch of the Teesside University College Partnership this week, Tees mayor Mr Houchen told Tees Business: “Everyone knows the direction the Tees Valley is going in. It’s on the up and we’re creating jobs.
“We’re seeing from the Bank of England record levels of employment and record low unemployment. We’ve gone below 5% for the first time ever for the first time in our history.
“It just shows there’s huge investment coming in to the Tees Valley, we’re at the forefront of the government agenda and at the forefront of a lot of businesses looking to locate outside of London or the rest of the world to the Tees Valley.
“We need to make sure that we’re all talking about the brilliant things we’re doing in the Tees Valley, the brilliant area that it is to live, and if we do that we’ll create more investment which will create those jobs.
“I think we’ve achieved it by speaking more positively and having a clearer plan of what we want for the Tees Valley.
“There has been a more national agenda of driving down public spending and reducing taxes on businesses to make sure they can invest and create jobs.
“But also there’s a bit of get up and go. The Tees Valley has been international since its birth, exporting steel to Australia, North America and the Far East, and we’re finding that confidence again.
“We’re starting more businesses that are starting to export more. There is a new-found confidence we’re finding in the Tees Valley that is really driving our economic growth.”
The region’s unemployment count stood at 63,000, down 40,000 on the year and down 89,000 since its peak in September 2011.
The number of women in work also reached a new record high of 71% at 601,000 – up 28,000 on the year.
The number of men in work is at its highest rate since March 2007 at 75.6%.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those on long-term sick leave, taken early retirement or who have given up looking for work, fell by 26,000 to 375,000 over the last year, giving a rate of 22.8%, a joint record low.
Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Simon Clarke, added: “Our region is on the rise, and it’s fantastic that a record number of people are in work.
“This doesn’t happen by accident – it’s down to the hard work of amazing employers, and it’s down to this Government creating the conditions for those employers to grow and recruit more staff.
“This news comes on the back of yesterday’s ONS report showing that wages are back rising above inflation. This is a great time for Teesside and we’re only getting started.”