Jobseekers up 50% compared to pre-Covid ‘but light on the horizon’

THE number of registered jobseekers in Jersey is around 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels and more than £100 million has been spent on business support schemes during the crisis, figures have revealed.

Atlantic Hotel Hospitality.Romulus Paul with a Blueberry Mojito..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30398988)
Atlantic Hotel Hospitality.Romulus Paul with a Blueberry Mojito..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30398988)

The latest economic indicators report produced by Statistics Jersey shows that 1,410 Islanders were registered as ‘actively seeking work’ with the Social Security Department on 28 February.

This was 550 more than a year earlier, just before the pandemic struck, but 40 lower than a month earlier. More women (780) were registered as jobseekers than men (630).

The pre-Covid number of people registered as ASW was generally around 900, with the number peaking at 2,670 on 24 May, before falling gradually since.

The figures only include Islanders registered with Social Security, meaning true levels of unemployment could be much higher.

Malcolm Ferey, chief executive of Citizens Advice Jersey, said that despite the figures, he felt there was ‘light on the horizon’.

‘Of course, we’ve seen people who have lost their jobs and therefore struggling to pay bills in the last year,’ he said.

‘The support which has been available has been tremendous but some people still find themselves in a worse financial position than they were 12 months ago.

‘There is hope. With hospitality being able to open up slowly, there is this light on the horizon. It’s not good that obviously we’re still 50% higher than we were this time last year, but I think that will start to resolve itself in the coming months.’

He added that the charity was advising people to train and learn new skills as much as possible, if they were out of work.

‘We advise them during this time to take stock of their skills, see where they could improve themselves by taking courses or learning new skills or completely taking their career in a different direction,’ he said.

‘The other side of it is, of course, that there are opportunities available in places where people perhaps may not have considered. Tech is the obvious one but, actually for example, some DIY stores are doing very well as people are not spending money on holidays and have decided to do the house up.’

The report also shows that around £100 million has now been paid out under the government schemes designed to support struggling businesses during the pandemic.

A total of £99 million has been paid out for 6,710 claims under phases two, three and three plus of the co-funded payroll support scheme, which subsidised staff wages.

Meanwhile, the visitor accommodation support scheme, which was launched late last year to assist hotels and guesthouses with their fixed costs, has paid out £2.6 million in response to 170 claims so far.

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