THE LIKELIHOOD of being in work has fallen faster in the South West than anywhere else in England over the last five years.

In 2008, the employment rate for the South West was 76.5 per cent, compared to 72.4 per cent in the UK, giving the South West a lead of 4.1 percentage points.

However, the lead has slipped to just 2.6 percentage points today, with South West employment falling to 74.4 per cent, compared to 71.8 per cent in the UK.

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC, said: “As the country drags itself out of the doldrums, the South West is flatlining. The welcome signs of growth are masking the fact that the South West economy is not performing as well as the rest of the UK in job terms.

“The region has had a good record for employment levels even though pay is low.

“But the last five years of recession and stagnation have hit job prospects in the South West more than anywhere else.

“The region is also lagging behind the UK on the pay front.

“The squeeze in earning has been even harder in the South West.

“Between 2008 and 2013 pay in the UK went up by 9.6 per cent, still behind inflation.

“But in the South West earnings only rose by 5.7 per cent, leaving families struggling to pay faster rising prices.”