For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the region now has more workers in payrolled employment than it did in February 2020, before Covid-19 had hit.

According to new figures from The Office for National Statistics, nationally there were a record 356,000 increase in payrolled workers between May and June – the seventh monthly rise in a row – while firms hired at a blistering pace after indoor hospitality reopened and ahead of the final lifting of restrictions next week.

North East England Chamber of Commerce Policy Adviser Niamh Corcoran said: “The figures are encouraging for the North East, with the labour market showing strong signs of recovery.

“However, labour and skills shortages are beginning to emerge, with firms in sectors like hospitality and logistics struggling to recruit the staff they need. In addition, long-term unemployment is an increasingly concerning problem in the labour market, particularly for older and younger workers,

“As the July reopening gets underway, Government should continue to increase investment in adult education so those in unemployment can rapidly retrain and upskill.”

This month’s data from the ONS showed employment in the North East at 1,167,000 or 72%, a fall of 1,000 over the quarter and a fall of 42,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 74.7% nationally.