The jobs divide at either end of the M55 shows Preston faring better than Blackpool amid lockdown
A new report released by the Centre for Cities reveals differing fortunes for the workforces of Preston and Blackpool.
The report, based on Office for National Statistics figures, highlights unemployment levels, take up of the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) and how job postings have changed since the start of the pandemic.
Preston has performed exceptionally well in all measures compared to other towns and cities both regionally and nationally. Only 5.3 per cent of the working age population are claiming unemployment benefits which is the ninth lowest rate in the UK.
Figures for youth unemployment (6.2 per cent) and the percentage of eligible roles that have been furloughed (12.9 per cent) are similarly positive.
Although the numbers of job postings to the Indeed website is down by 2.8 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, when compared to a regional average of -12.1 per cent and a national average of -16.4 per cent. Preston is faring much better than many other towns and cities.
The situation in Blackpool is the direct opposite, with results worse than regional and national averages. A 9.9 per cent unemployment level is the second worst in the UK as is the percentage on furlough at 18.1 per cent. Blackpool is also ninth worst in the UK in terms of the percentage change in job postings at -25.5 per cent.
Commenting on the figures Geoff Mason, policy manager at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “The results highlight the difference in the economies of Preston and Blackpool.
"Hospitality, leisure and tourism have been the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. These are major part of Blackpool’s economy and the results demonstrate the resulting impact on jobs in the town.
“While Preston has a thriving hospitality economy in normal circumstances, it is not as central to the city’s overall success. With greater numbers of manufacturers and professional services, Preston has been able to weather the storm better.
“As the economy re-opens further over the coming months Blackpool should start to recover. However, it may take time to reach pre-pandemic levels and continued support will be needed as the town rebuilds. For the struggling hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors it is crucial that the roadmap to end restrictions continues on time, supported by the vaccination programme and testing.”
Mark Whittle, BID Manager at Preston City Centre Business Improvement District said: “Preston is not immune to the economic effects of the pandemic, but it’s positive to see that the city
has one of the lowest number of employment support claimants in the region.
“Preston’s business community is resilient and has measured optimism for the immediate future, but it will continue to need the support of the government, consumers, and authorities in order to thrive.”