Covid-19 impact on jobs market hits older Wigan workers hardest
The JPIMedia Data Unit analysed which age groups have seen the biggest rise in Universal Credit claimants between January 2020 and January 2021.
The largest increase was among 44-to-44-year-olds in Wigan, who saw a 101 per cent rise in claimants.
There was a 100 per cent increase among 55-to-59-year-olds and a 98 per cent rise among Wiganers aged 50 to 54, while among workers between 60 and 64 the number of claimants went up by 97 per cent.
The figures also show Wiganers have been affected across the board by the coronavirus, with even 25-to-29-year-olds, who are the least affected of any age group in the borough, seeing a 75 per cent increase in claimants.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data shows an 89 per cent rise in the total number of people claiming Universal Credit from 17,275 in January 2020 to 32,588 in January 2021.
It should be noted the figures for the first month of this year are provisional.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the UK economy, with unemployment reaching a five-year high in the three months up to last December.
With the Government furlough scheme protecting jobs which people cannot do due to the measures slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, experts have raised concerns about the number of people who are still in work but require Universal Credit to top up their income.
The picture for Wigan, with older age groups in the workforce turning to Universal Credit in the biggest numbers, is a distinct contrast to the situation across England as a whole. There, those aged 20 to 24 have been the worst affected, with a rise of 132 per cent.
People in this age group were also most likely to be completely out of work or earning very little.
In the North West it was the same story, with 20-to-24-year-olds seeing the biggest increase in claimants with a rise of 111 per cent.
The 20-to-24-year-old age group has the sixth-largest increase in claimants, with numbers 91 per cent up.
Wigan Council has previously acknowledged that the pandemic has been a very challenging situation for the borough in terms of the benefits system and the jobs market.
The local authority has stressed that help is available for anyone struggling to make ends meet and urged residents facing financial hardship to get in touch.
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