600 more unemployed in a month

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WIGAN’S jobless total rocketed by almost 600 last month.

And one of the biggest rises in decades included the number of under-25s out of work also increasing significantly.

Council leader Lord Smith today laid the blame for these “bad figures” squarely at the Government’s door but offered a truce with it in order to create new local posts.

But it is not all gloom. The number of Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants is lower than it was this time last year - 6.12 per cent compared with 6.55 - and there has been a 21 per cent hike in Job Centre vacancies.

Unemployment in Greater Manchester is at an all-time high though with 86,240 JSA claimants in January: up 4,266 on the month before.

In Wigan, there were 9,625 claimants last month compared with 9,036 in December. Among 16 to 24-year-olds the figure rose by 160 from 2,930 to 3,090: more than a third of the borough’s unemployed.

Lord Smith said: “These are bad figures, there’s no hiding from that and they are obviously the result of the Government’s economic policy which is badly affecting areas like Wigan.

“They keep saying they are going to do something to help but they particularly need to be doing more to help young people find a first job.

“We are willing to put aside political differences to work with the Government to do something about this. We should be having a bigger programme to help young people and money spent on infrastructure which will help in the short term to get people into work and attract new industries and employment in the long term.”

Miranda Barker, Greater Manchester Chamber’s Wigan President, offered some comfort today though.

She said: “It does not make very nice reading but January is one of the most difficult times of the year historically. Yet compared with last year we are doing much better with JSA claimants, including under-25s, there are 21 per cent more vacancies in job centres and although the position doesn’t look great, Wigan still has the lowest annual increase in unemployment in the whole of Greater Manchester.”