This week in my Crawley Observer column (below the graph) I have welcomed last week's falling unemployment figures and questioned where the huge extra workforce needed as a result of a second runway at Gatwick would come from, given that the wider area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the UK?
"I welcome last week’s unemployment figures showing another large fall. Unemployment is falling towards its long-term average which historically in Crawley and our surrounding areas is very low. Plan A is working, as indeed are a record number of people in the UK.Being out-of-work is awful and one person unemployed is one too many. Sadly, even at the peak of the last economic boom in the mid-2000s, the broader unemployment count did not fall below 1.5 million. Thankfully, our Conservative-led government is getting people back to work and delivering the highest economic growth out of all the advanced industrialised nations.
Every Labour government has left office with higher unemployment than when it took office. High unemployment from 2010 is rapidly falling and our region is now doing very well. Crawley’s unemployment has fallen to 1.5% (1,080 people) and two of our neighbours (Mid-Sussex and Mole Valley) are among the very lowest in the entire country at 0.6%. West Sussex as a whole is 1.1% (5,581 people) and Surrey is 0.8% (5,575 people).I see one argument above all else used to justify support for a potential second runway at Gatwick Airport, this being that “we need the jobs”. To me, this feels like a wholly uninformed and false argument that hasn’t been researched. Those saying this may be thinking in terms of the last recession rather than looking at the longer-term unemployment average which for our area is very low.
Gatwick Airport’s own pro-second runway propaganda claims that 120,000 jobs will be brought to the region with a second runway. I’d estimate that over 85%+ of Gatwick’s workforce live in West Sussex and Surrey. With unemployment in both counties totalling 11,000 (under 1%) and rapidly falling; it is obvious that a second runway would result in a huge inward migration of people (and their families) moving in from outside, all of whom will need housing. We are already struggling to meet existing housing needs so where would they all live? Would any green space be safe from development and how much more congestion could our roads and railways take?"