More than half of all jobs in County Durham could be ‘at risk’ due to the impact of Covid-19, according to the latest research.
Manufacturing and education together account for about a quarter of all employment in the county, but are among eight sectors considered vulnerable, according to the latest research.
And with the government’s coronavirus furlough scheme due to end in October, fears are mounting many workers will not have a role to go back to, prompting fresh calls for new powers to protect the regional economy.
Simon Henig, the leader of Durham County Council, said it is ‘vital’ ministers funnel cash to the areas most in need.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have been working with our partners to ensure businesses, sole traders and employees have access to financial and practical support,” he added.
“Our recovery priorities will include steps to grow the economy and protect jobs.
“To ensure this is deliverable, it is vital the Government provides the investment our county needs and closes the gap created by historic underinvestment in infrastructure in the north.”
According to a report by the County Councils Network, a lobbying group for local authorities, almost six million people across the country are working in ‘at risk’ industries, including manufacturing, construction and retail, as well as the arts, education and others.
According to the findings, 58.55 per cent of jobs in County Durham are considered vulnerable, making it the fifth worst affected county area.
Neighbouring Cumbria topped the list, with more than three fifths of employment at risk.
Northumberland and North Yorkshire, the other two counties bordering Durham, were ranked seventh and 15th, respectively.
David Williams, CCN chairman and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The scale of the economic challenge posed by coronavirus cannot be overstated and [the] research illustrates how exposed county areas are with over half of those areas’ workforces currently in sectors ‘’at risk’.
“We fear a significant number of those furloughed will not have employment to go back to unless we act now.
“There is a real risk the pandemic simply exacerbates the longstanding economic divide between county areas and the major cities, with urban metro mayors having more powers and resources at their disposal to address the impact of coronavirus.”