New jobless misery

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ANOTHER 225 Wiganers joined the dole queues last month.

If 2011 was a trend-bucking year for the borough as it managed to keep a lid on unemployment, this one is looking a whole lot tougher already.

Add January’s worrying figures to the total and 2012 has already seen more than 800 local folk added to the number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

It is a setback to the latest efforts to get the borough on the road to post-recession recovery, a landmark event yesterday being a summit for businesses showing how the new Saddle Relief Road in Wigan might boost the economy.

Wigan has already been identified as having particular problems finding work for its younger adults, under-25s making up more than a third of those unemployed. And February’s figures don’t help either, the number of 16 to 24-year-olds claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance rising by 145 to 3,235.

Wigan Council’s deputy leader, Coun David Molyneux, said: “Any increase in unemployment is disappointing and we are still doing the best we can, particularly trying to concentrate on apprenticeships to get younger people into employment.”

Last month 9,850 people in Wigan claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance, compared to 9,625 the month before.

Dr Brian Sloan, Chief Economist at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The unemployment data released today shows that the North West region is losing jobs faster than any other region of the UK. Private sector job creation has also significantly weakened over the past couple of months.

“The figures showing a rise in the claimant count in Wigan of 225 will also include a number of people being transferred from other benefits.

“There are signs that the situation is improving, but more must be done to support private sector investment, including the provision of infrastructure that will encourage that investment decision.

“Projects like the Northern Hub rail project must get the go ahead from Government now and other projects such as Liverpool Waters, part of the Atlantic Gateway proposition, should not be subjected to lengthy planning inquiries now that planning permission has been granted.”