CHARLES GRAHAM - Our long-term jobless

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WHILE some parts of Britain have seen unemployment steadily rising, Wigan’s figures have been alternately impressive and depressing.

It took a long time after the recession began to see any increase in folk claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, but then in the first two months of this year, there was a sudden big rise of about 800 redundancies.

The last two months, however, has seen something of a rally, but no-one is fooling themselves that we are over the worst now.

And then you break down the figures. We already know that there is a disproportionate number of young people out of work - a third in fact - and great efforts are being made locally to address this.

Witness the recent challenge to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days, which the paper supported, and saw the target not only hit but surpassed by 77.

Another worrying figure cropped up this week though: that of the number of people who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Sadly this proves to be nearly half of all those out of work and while it is a middle-of-the-table number as far as regional statistics are concerned, that makes for a lot of local people who will be very worried about their long-term prospects. The longer you are out of work, the harder it is to get back into it, we hear.

Perhaps our businesses and the local authority could turn their attention next to those who find themselves in this sorry predicament.