Fall in jobless ...

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UNEMPLOYMENT in Wigan went down by 63 in the last month of a roller-coaster 2012.

And there was more encouraging news when the figures are broken down. The number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance – who in recent years have made up a disproportionately large number of the borough’s jobless – dropped 105 to 2,715.

While this, and a similar trend region-wide, was perhaps predictable given the amount of temporary seasonal posts in December, there is an improved business optimism for 2013 despite recent high-profile high street failures such as Jessops and HMV.

Dr Brian Sloan, Chief Economist at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The fall in the claimant count in December across Greater Manchester reinforces our view that our local economy finished the year on a much more positive note.

“However we remain cautious that the progress we have seen in the falling claimant count numbers will falter in the early part of this year as temporary workers are released following the Christmas period, we experience corporate failures and the announced public sector job cuts take place.

“There is cautious optimism amongst business, but growth remains weak and we would echo the call by the Governor of the Bank of England yesterday evening that the Government must do more to boost the slow recovery. The North West has the potential to make a substantial contribution to that growth, though the Government has not understood its role or the economic arguments underpinning rebalancing the economy towards the regions.