Rise in unemployment but only a blip say job bosses

Unemployment has risen slightly
Unemployment has risen slightly

The number of Wiganers claiming out-of-work benefits has risen slightly but hopes are high the borough’s economy will soon recover.

The number of claimants rose to 5,390 in May, a slight increase on the April figure, but this was attributed to well-publicised issues on the high street with companies such as BHS.

Despite that and other difficulties such as the Asda distribution centre at Marus Bridge closing, there was still good news with the number of Wiganers aged between 18 and 24 claiming benefits falling by three per cent compared to the previous month.

The Jobcentre Plus also said the number of new developments taking shape around the borough gives it great confidence the slight rise in unemployment will only be a temporary blip.

Leigh Jobcentre manager Kathryn Johnston said: “There have been some redundancies and we’ve seen closures in some areas in May but we’ve not got concerns.

“We’re already looking at potential recruitments for our jobseekers and supporting them with their applications.

“There’s also a lot of activity going on in the borough. The DWP is recruiting for its service centre in Makerfield and on the Leigh site we’ve got B&M opening in Tyldesley and new opportunities at the Parsonage Retail Park.

“Amazon is recruiting massively for its site, which is well within the travel area, and Manchester Airport which is connected to Wigan by a direct route is just launching a big campaign.

“We’ve also been working closely with small and medium-sized enterprises, including a marketing company which has just moved to Appley Bridge and has vacancies.

“There’s also the developments at Robin Park where we are just waiting for planning permission.”

The Jobcentre Plus is particularly keen to help young people get on the career ladder and is about to run another work academy at Wigan Youth Zone getting people aged 18 to 20 into apprenticeships in the sport sector as well as in telesales and technician-type roles.

The Jobcentre Plus has also recently introduced enhanced job matching services at its centres.

The latest official labour market figures released by Nomis show there were 3,370 men and 2,020 women claiming benefits in Wigan last month.

There were 1,260 claimants aged between 18 and 24 and 2,985 aged 25 to 49 as well as 1,135 people on benefits over 50 and 10 who are either 16 or 17 years old.