February sees slight unemployment rise

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The number of Wiganers claiming out-of-work-benefits rose by less than three per cent last month.

New figures from Jobcentre Plus showed the claimant count in February totalled 5,335, up just 135 from 5,200 during the previous month - an increase of just two-and-a-half per cent.

The number of 18-24 year olds claiming was 1,200, up from 1,155 in January, another minor increase of less than four per cent.

Linda Bailey, from Jobcentre Plus, said: “There is no noticeable cause for this slight increase.

“There have been no large scale job losses or redundancies. This is just the general ebb and flow that you get from month to month.”

The claimant count rose for the second consecutive month. In January, the number jumped from 5,150 to 5,200.

Ms Bailey said Jobcentre Plus would be hosting jobs fairs in the borough at the start of April, and would be working with growth sectors to make sure as many residents as possible had the chance to find work.

“We would urge anyone interested to get down and have a chat with the employers,” Ms Bailey said.

She added: “We have done a lot of work with hospitality firms recently, as there a lot of organisations in the sector that are recruiting regularly.”

“The hospitality and care sectors are seeing significant growth. There’s also been huge growth in the logistics sector too.”

Ms Bailey urged people to take into account the changing ways in which the Office of National Statistics (ONS) publishes its data.

“The full roll out of Universal Credit affects how ONS do their seasonal adjustments,” she said.

There were some more positive trends on the wider scene, however.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent - its lowest since 2005 - and long-term unemployment was at its lowest since the 2008 recession.

Additionally, it was good news in the North West where the number of women in work has risen by 41,000 over the past year to a near record high of 1.63 million women in work.

Responding to the figures, Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said: “I’m delighted by another set of record-breaking figures showing more people in work than ever before and unemployment falling to its lowest in 12 years.

“But we have more to do, which is why we’re pressing ahead with our welfare reforms to ensure that it always pays to be in work.”

For full figures, visit ons.org.uk