THE North-East is lagging far behind most of the country in creating private-sector jobs – casting doubt on Government promises to “rebalance the economy”
The rate of jobs growth by businesses in this region is only half the national average and just one-quarter that of the booming South-East, official figures show.
But Yorkshire is surging ahead - outperforming London and almost matching England’s richest region in the number of new posts created last year.
Interviewed by The Northern Echo, Tory party chairman Grant Shapps said “virtually every part of the country is moving in the right direction”.
But he acknowledged: “There is a different picture in different areas – things happen at a different pace and every region is different.”
The statistics were highlighted by the Conservatives as part of a new drive to convince voters that the whole country is sharing in economic recovery.
They show that Yorkshire gained 89,000 private sector jobs in the whole of 2013, exactly the same number as were created in London.
And, in percentage terms, Yorkshire outshone the capital (up 4.6 per cent), almost twice the rate in London (2.4 per cent) and within touching distance of the South-East (4.8 per cent).
But the picture was far less rosy across the rest of the North and the Midlands, despite repeated pledges that the rewards of economic growth would be fairly shared.
In the North-East, 12,000 extra private-sector posts were added in 2013, an increase of 1.4 per cent on 12 months earlier – exactly half the UK average (2.8 per cent).
There was virtually no private-sector jobs growth in the North West (up 0.2 per cent) or the West Midlands (0.1 per cent) and the number fell in the East Midlands (down 0.6 per cent).
Perhaps most worryingly for the North, Scotland - up 5.5 per cent and 104,000 extra posts created – appears to be enjoying a business jobs boom.
But Mr Shapps denied the recovery was “unbalanced”, saying: “An unbalanced recovery would be London and the South-East going for growth and no other part of the country going for growth.
“Places as disparate as Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire have all got growth which is faster than London, so that’s not an accurate picture.
“It’s a triumph – and a tribute to their workforces - that, in many areas that traditionally relied on public-sector job, they have been able to replace those with private-sector jobs.”
But, yesterday (Monday), Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted the nature of the jobs being created would fail to tackle what he calls “the cost of living crisis”.
Mr Miliband said: “Many of the new jobs being created require fewer skills, pay lower wages and offer less security.”