UNEMPLOYMENT in Wigan borough has rocketed by 540 in just a month.
Latest figures show that the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Wigan rose from 8,249 in December to 8,790 in January.
And they prompted fears that there could be a continuing trend in the months to come.
For most of last year Wigan bucked the national pattern by experiencing a drop in joblessness.
But the first shock came last month with a slight rise between November and December at a time when employment traditionally goes up because of seasonal work.
Now there has been a much bigger lurch, albeit in a month traditional for seasonal lay-offs.
Particular concerns have already been aired about the large number of local people aged 16 to 24 who are out of work. Jerry Stokes, chief executive of Work Solutions, an organisation working with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce which helps get unemployed adults into work, said: “As anticipated there was a jump in the number of Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants across Greater Manchester in January, the figures also showed a fall in employment across the North West and a rise in the number of people economically inactive in the three months to December, which is very worrying.
“This is a concern as there is an urgent need for private sector job creation at this time to help sustain the recovery by bolstering the domestic economy. We expected this rise as seasonal workers return to the jobs’ market and redundancies in the public sector gather pace, but the momentum of job creation in the private sector is being lost.
“Our own Quarterly Economic Survey had anticipated that the rate of job creation would slow in the final quarter, however these figures are still a surprise and we are hoping that the strong intentions to recruit in Q1 reach fruition, though the headline figures are likely to get worse before they can better.
“Government must do more to support businesses to create jobs and put a halt to the relentless flow of costly and disruptive employment legislation that is damaging UK businesses’ ability to compete.
“Yes, there is a concern that the claimant count is increasing, but there has also been a rise in the number of vacancies advertised. However, many of the new claimants will be those people who are being made redundant from the public sector.”