Employment has reached a record high in the Leeds City Region, new figures show, with more than 6,000 people having gained work in recent months.
New figures from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership show that the region’s employment rate reached 73.8 per cent during the first quarter of 2019 – the highest on record.
During this period there were an additional 6,100 (0.4 per cent) more people in work than the previous three months.
Leeds is already beginning to see Channel 4 starting to recruit in the city and Canadian tech firm Credit Karma is opening a base in the city.
While the employment rate had increased there was, however, a decline after businesses in the Yorkshire region saw a drop in the level of goods they exported.
The region’s firms exported goods worth £4.46bn during the first quarter, a fall of 4.8 per cent from the record high at the end of 2018.
Additional findings show that, as with the national economy, many businesses prepared for Brexit by holding additional stock at the start of the year ahead of the then intended departure date of March 31.
This is contributing to a slowdown in domestic and export activity in the spring.
The data is published after the nation’s economy shrank in the last few months prompting fears of a recession.
Many of the region’s businesses are again preparing for the UK’s prospective departure from the EU at the end of October, and are facing decisions on whether to implement similar plans for future Brexit scenarios.
These decisions are made more complex by issues such as currency fluctuations, and the cost and availability of additional space businesses may require to enact their contingency plans.
The figures were revealed in the Quarterly Economic Survey with the Chambers of Commerce covering Leeds City Region.
Roger Marsh, inset, chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), hailed the employment figures but said that the best method to enhance the region’s economy lay in improving skill levels.
He said: “These figures demonstrate the strength of the Leeds City Region, which contributes £69.6bn GVA to the national economy.
“We are in a robust position to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it, and this shows that our support of over 10,000 local businesses and investing in the skills of our workforce is providing a sound infrastructure for growth.”
Recent research showed that raising industrial productivity above the national average would bring an extra £11bn a year into the area.
The Leeds City Region LEP said its future path would have to be shaped in part by businesses based within it, and put out a call for feedback on its strategy for helping firms become more productive, while also reducing carbon emissions and improving public health.
Andrew Wright, chairman of the LEP Business Innovation and Growth panel, said: “It’s great news that employment figures are so high.
“We want to maintain this momentum which is why I encourage business owners based in the region to get in touch with the LEP Growth Service to find out about the support available to make your business as resilient as possible.”