The number of Wiganers claiming out-of-work benefits has surprisingly risen, the latest labour market figures have shown.
Unemployment statistics show more people needed support in the borough both compared to last month and the same time last year.
There were 5,235 Wiganers on out-of-work benefits in October, with 3,345 men and 1,890 women claiming some form of benefits.
This is a slight increase both on the September figure and a three per cent rise on the number in October 2015.
However, the figure of 1,255 people aged between 18 and 24 claiming out-of-work benefits was an eight per cent drop on the figure of 1,370 recorded last October.
The Jobcentre Plus said it was surprised by the statistics as there was no indication the borough’s economy was struggling and suggested it was only a temporary blip.
Jobcentre Plus employer team manager for Wigan Linda Bailey said: “I don’t think the slight increase is a problem. There is not a sense of it being something significant although we are continuing to monitor it.
“It could be as simple as fewer people going to university compared to previous years. There have been no major redundancies since BHS and our rapid response means very few of their ex-staff are still looking for work now.
“Opportunities in Wigan are quite often targeted at younger people so we are opening them up to people 25 and over as well.
“There’s a lot going on in Wigan and we are talking to the local authority about the care sector, where there are a lot of vacancies.
“We are supporting anybody who is looking for work, whether that’s light touch assistance through posting vacancies on Twitter or more supportive measures helping those who haven’t worked for a while and need extra help.”
The statistics show there were 765 Wiganers aged between 18 and 21 claiming out-of-work benefits in October, with 2,825 people between 25 and 49 and 1,145 over 50s also needing support.