Data released by the Office for National Statistics today (Wednesday 20th July 2016) shows that, in the 12 months to March 2016, Bexley’s working age population employment rate reached a 5 year high of 77.1%, with 117,200 working age residents in employment:
Source: ONS Annual Population Survey – Employment Rate – Aged 16-64
This resulted in Bexley having the 5th highest employment rate in London (excluding the City of London).
In total 122,200 residents aged 16 or above were in employment, suggesting that 5,000 Bexley residents over the retirement age continue to work.
The number of residents working in professional occupations and associate professional and technical occupations also hit new 5 year highs, at 24,400 and 19,500 respectively.
The London Borough of Bexley has created its quarterly infographic providing an overview of the new data which can be downloaded here.
At a more detailed level, the resident employment growth in professional occupations was mainly driven by an increase in the science, research, engineering and technology professions which increased 3,600 against the 12 months to March 2015. Workers in this group undertake research and consultancy activities within the physical and social sciences and in the humanities; technically supervise the development, installation and maintenance of mechanical, chemical, structural and electrical systems; advise upon and direct the technical aspects of production programmes; provide consultancy and development services in the provision and utilisation of information technology and telecommunications; direct and advise upon the conservation and protection of the environment; and direct and advise upon the research and development operations of an organisation.
There was also strong growth in the number of residents employed as health professionals (a 1,800 increase) and teaching and educational professionals (a 1,200 increase).
In the associate professional and technical occupations employment growth was seen most in protective service occupations which increased 1,800 against the 12 months to March 2015. Workers in this group serve in the armed forces, the police force, fire service, prison service and perform other protective service roles.
There was also strong growth in the number of residents employed as business and public service associate professionals.
At the same time that Bexley’s employment rate hits a new high, it’s active benefit claimant count (those in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit) continues to remain low. At March 2016, there were 1,900 people in Bexley in receipt of an active benefit, marking the 6th consecutive month the count was below 2,000.
Source: ONS Claimant Count and ONS Jobseekers Allowance
While this is all good news, there is still work to be done. While the employment rate has hit a new high, the economically active working age population unemployment rate in the 12 months to March 2016 was 6.5% – not the highest in the last 5 years, but higher than it was in the 12 months to March 2015.
Source: ONS Annual Population Survey – Unemployment Rate – Aged 16-64
What could help reduce Bexley’s unemployment rate is the number of jobs advertised in the borough in the 12 months to March 2016. According to the Burning Glass Labour Insight tool there were 6,814 opportunities advertised in Bexley in the 12 months to March 2016, an increase of 2,212 (48%) on the 12 months to March 2015.
Most job opportunities were available in professional occupations (2,073), with the highest number in teaching and educational professionals.
The occupation family with the next largest number of jobs advertised was associate professional and technical occupation (1,027), with the highest number in business and public service associate professionals.
Seeing this, it’s no surprise that the biggest increase in Bexley’s resident employment has occurred in the occupation families with the greatest number of advertised opportunities over the same period.
Considering how the data may look in the next quarter, Burning Glass Labour Insight shows that professional occupations and associate professional and technical occupations continued to have the most advertised opportunities in the July 2015 to June 2016 period.
Will this reflect in a further increase in the number of residents working in these roles? We’ll find out when the next set of data from the Annual Population Survey, for the period July 2015 to June 2016, is released in October.