New year job fears

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A ROCKY start to 2013 is predicted for Wigan workers and jobseekers, despite a recent drop in unemployment.

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that within the borough, the claimant count for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) was down by 131 to 9,450 in November.

But Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce believes the rise in people gaining jobs may be as a result of temporary Christmas positions and the number of JSA claimants will shoot up in January.

Dr Brian Sloan, Chief Economist at the Chamber, said: “We have been warning that some of the positive trends in the labour market seen earlier in the year were weakening.

“However, crucially we have just completed our quarter four survey that shows that as the year draws to a close, the trends are more positive. This is highlighted by the fall in the JSA count for Greater Manchester.

“Generally we are seeing better trading conditions as the year ends, in line with our expectations and business confidence is still strong, in spite of the headwinds that the economy faces.

“This is why current trends are more positive, but looking into the New Year there may be a rise in the JSA and unemployment numbers as temporary workers are released and public sector redundancies take place.

“This will hit business demand; however, in a low growth environment fortunes are mixed and there are still signs of encouragement.”

Meanwhile, the claimant count for young people aged between 18 and 24 in the Wigan borough has decreased by 100 to 2,820.

Mr Sloan added: “The decrease in the number of young people unemployed in the Wigan borough reflects the standard seasonal trend in hiring temporary workers in the retail and hospitality sectors in the run-up to Christmas.

“Whilst this is positive news in the short term, looking ahead to 2013, there is a risk that this situation will be reversed as we proceed into the quieter January period.”

From Monday, December 17, any 18 to 24-year-old in Great Britain who has been claiming for six months will now be entitled to the Youth Contract wage incentive.

The incentive allows employers to claim up to £2,275 when they take on a young person who has been out of work for some time, helping them cover the costs of National Insurance contributions or fund the extra training or supervision that may be required.