UNEMPLOYMENT in Wigan has almost halved since the beginning of last year!
Since January 2013, the number of borough residents claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has plummeted from a recession high of 9,785 to 5,100 last month.
The latest massive drop of 730 claimants since June takes the jobless rate to 2.5 per cent of the working population. The last time it was that low in Wigan was June 2008 when the economic crash was first beginning to take hold.
There was further good news for younger folk looking for work as the number of under-24s out of work fell by 190 to 1,070. That means that from a September 2009 high of 3,500, unemployment among Wigan borough’s young adults has plunged by more than two-thirds.
Wigan Council’s deputy leader David Molyneux was delighted at the news but did add a note of caution. He said: “We are always pleased to see unemployment figures dropping in the way they are. I would like to think that the authority has played its part in improving the situation through various initiatives, not least apprenticeship schemes.
“I am, however, a little wary as to how they get the benefit figures down and I am sure there are some people who have come off the figures but are still struggling because of a lack of good job opporunities. There are certainly still a lot of people relying on food banks.”
He was at a loss as to why there had been such a huge fall in Wigan in the space of one month, a major new employer not having launched in the last few weeks. He ventured that seasonal trends may be at play to an extent.
Christian Spence, head of business intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “With employment overall rising by 820,000 over the past year, we continue to see the rate of unemployment falling to a near-six year low.
“Around half of that increase is accounted for by self-employment, though it is too early to tell if this is a genuine resurgence of an entrepreneurial spirit or caused by an inability of people to find contracted employment that suits their needs.”