THE number of registered jobseekers in the Island has dropped to pre-pandemic levels – but ongoing staff shortages have contributed to the trend, according to the Economic Development Minister.
At the end of the year 810 people were registered as actively seeking work with the Social Security Department, the lowest number since February 2020.
The figure is 590 lower than at the same time the previous year, having reached 2,290 in May 2020, shortly after the arrival of Covid-19 in the Island.
Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said that the reduction in the number of jobseekers was welcome but was probably due in part to recent staff shortages making it easier for work to be found. He added that Brexit had cut access to European labour markets leading to fewer workers being available to fill vacancies.
He said: ‘The less people we have actively seeking work and the more people we have in work is always welcome.
‘But I do believe there’s no doubt that the tight labour market has contributed to that. As well as the pandemic we’re dealing with Brexit, which has closed down or reduced certain labour markets in the EU that the Island previously relied upon.
‘While the figures are good news, I think we still have a challenging job ahead to make sure we can provide sufficient staff to maintain our key industries. Having said that, we are making progress and hopefully the pandemic is in the final throes of causing economic challenge.
‘We are now starting to live along with the virus, and we should see some stability returning to labour markets this year.’
A large proportion of the actively seeking work number – 40% – were ‘long-term’, meaning they have been looking for a job for more than 12 months.
Social Security Minister Judy Martin said that her department would be focussing on helping those who have struggled to find work for a long period of time.
She said: ‘The primary goal has always been to get people back into work as quickly as possible as the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it is for them to return to the working environment.
‘I am delighted to see that the number of long-term unemployed has dropped by 70 year on year. With the challenges a lot of organisations are facing, it is also pleasing to see that all of the job starts were across a variety of industries.
‘We will be continuing to focus on supporting long-term jobseekers and helping them move closer to employment.’
The figures for those actively seeking work indicate the number of Islanders looking for employment through the Social Security Department. The Government of Jersey does not produce full unemployment figures.