BUSINESS development experts say they at a loss to explain why some areas of the region appear to be weathering the economic downturn much better than others.

Office for National Statistics figures for the number of private sector jobs between January 2010 and December 2012 show while the North-East saw an overall growth of three per cent, Hambleton in North Yorkshire saw a 22.2 per cent rise with 6,300 people taken on and neighbouring Richmondshire suffered a 6.6 per cent fall.

Other places which experienced a rise in staff being employed by firms include Sunderland, which benefited from a 15.2 per cent rise, while Darlington, Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough all saw increases of more than 7.5 per cent.

However, County Durham, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool all bucked the regional trend, with fewer people working in the private sector at the end of the three-year period than at the start.

Andrew Leeming, enterprise partnership manager at York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, said it was clear that areas such as Hambleton appeared to be more resilient than others, but that could be attributed to a variety of factors, including the strengths of different industries.

Mr Leeming said: “While we have seen some new business, there has been good growth in existing firms, particularly in the food and manufacturing businesses based along the A1, such as at Leeming Bar.

“In Richmondshire, it is a smaller economy and the ability to grow is much less due to the nature of the businesses.”

He added that the figures should be treated with caution as the areas were calculated by where people lived rather than worked.

Richmondshire District Council deputy leader Councillor Mick Griffiths said: “The drop is almost inexplicable and as far as I can see, looking forward there is good news for Richmondshire.”

Councillor Mark Robson, who is due to become Hambleton District Council’s leader this month, said while it was unclear why the area had seen a sharp rise in private sector jobs, it proved the area was a good place to work.

Gillian Roll, economic strategy manager for North East Local Enterprise Partnership, agreed it was impossible to link the statistics to any particular factor, such as council policies.

She said rises such as the 12,500 extra private sector workers in Sunderland would have knock-on effects across the region.

A spokeswoman for Tees Valley Unlimited Local Enterprise Partnership said it was unable to comment due to the upcoming council elections and that an area’s economic health needed to be judged alongside other indicators.