Job seekers’ total hits record low

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WIGAN is officially working after new figures revealed the number of people in the borough without a job has fallen to a record low.

There were just 2,725 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in December 2015, according to new statistics released by the Government.

We’ve got some really positive opportunities and developments taking place

Kathryn Johnson

The Wigan figures show the claimants total dropped by 30 from the previous month and the number of under-25s on JSA also dropped by 25 to 325.

The data means just 1.3 per cent of the workforce was claiming JSA last month and the Greater Manchester total also hit a record low, with 25,710 claimants making up 1.5 per cent of the region’s total number of potential employees.

Kathryn Johnson from the Jobcentre Plus said it was likely there would be further good news in 2016 with employment opportunities including Poundland recruiting hundreds of staff for a new distribution centre coming to the borough.

She said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was also working to get Wiganers recently made redundant by Betfred back into work and was running schemes to ensure young claimants can get a foot on the career ladder.

Ms Johnson said: “We’re working with the armed forces on a one-week residential course for people aged between 18 and 30 followed by work experience. It’s the first one we’ve run in Wigan.

“We’re also running skills events getting people closer to the labour market and our January campaign is about raising awareness among claimants of the exciting opportunities in hospitality.

We’ve got some really positive opportunities and developments taking place.”

DWP figures also showed hundreds of Wiganers have moved off benefits by becoming their own boss, with 590 start-ups being created in the borough under the New Enterprise Allowance scheme since April 2011.

Business experts warned some of the low total for December could be due to firms taking on temporary staff over the Christmas period but national figures showed grounds for optimism, with 75 per cent of all roles created across the country in the past year being full time.

Christian Spence, head of research and policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The continued fall in unemployment shows that the labour market continues to benefit from the wider economic recovery, though some of the reductions for the December data are likely to be influenced by seasonal hires for the Christmas period. Nonetheless, the picture remains positive.

“For businesses, the implications will be that finding new, and particularly skilled staff, will be ever harder as the size of the pool from which they can recruit is getting smaller.

“For individuals, companies are continuing to recruit and opportunities are available, though matching their skills sets to the need of employers in all sectors and geographies is particularly important.

“Government’s role should be to redouble its efforts in supporting those who remain some way from the labour market to ensure that as many of the population can benefit from the current positive environment as possible.”