BUSINESS leaders and politicians in Hampshire have welcomed rising employment in the south.

Latest figures show that overall employment in the south-east has risen by 1.2 per cent in the past year to 76.1 per cent – the highest in the country.

They also reveal that 67.2 per cent of women in the UK are in employment – the highest rate since records began – while 77.2 per cent of men are in work.

Stewart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The recent job market figures show that there is a record number of women in work and youth unemployment continues to fall – strong indications of an economic recovery.”

Royston Smith, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen, said: “It is great news that there are 210,000 more people in work in the south-east since 2010.”

Sally Lynskey, chief executive of Business South, said: “We are definitely heading in the right direction and it is important for that momentum to be maintained.”