TEN jobseekers are currently chasing each vacancy in the region, a meeting heard.

Rising jobless rates and plummeting vacancies due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis mean West Yorkshire’s economy, like the rest of the country, faces a bleak period – despite some signs of a recovery having begun.

That was the message at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s employment and skills panel, which discussed some of the issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

The jobless total was rising as businesses collapsed or cut staff in a bid to survive the pandemic, members were told. At the same time, there were fewer job vacancies arising.

At the meeting – held remotely – Peter Glover, economic evidence manager at the authority, said: “Online job postings have fallen by two thirds. There are signs of a modest recovery, some signs the situation is bottoming out.”

But he pointed out that the number of new jobless claimants in the region had increased by 87 per cent.

He said that before the pandemic there were around two claimants for each job vacancy, but this had risen to ten per vacancy.

In May there were 260,000 Universal Credit claimants in the Leeds City Region, a rise of 66 per cent. Members also heard that over 250,000 people in the region were currently being furloughed – about 28 per cent of all employees.

Mr Glover pointed out that this high number, and the uncertain future of many businesses, meant the region may see even more job losses in the coming months as furlough schemes end.

He said: “This creates the potential for a second wave of unemployment as many who have been supported by the furlough scheme may find they don’t have a job to go back to.”

Members were told the local economy was likely to contract by 35 per cent in the latest quarter of this year, and by 13 per cent across the entire financial year, although he admitted even this figure could be “quite optimistic”.

Susan Hinchcliffe, chairman of the combined authority and leader of Bradford Council, said: “This looks rather stark when you see these figures together. It highlights how significant the work of this board will be over the coming months and years.” She said the West Yorkshire devolution deal could aid recovery, adding: “We need to make sure the resources we get go into developing employment and skills in this region.”