Figures reveal borough getting back to work

JobCentre Plus

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The number of people claiming benefits is plunging while employment in St Helens is rising, new figures reveal.

The latest labour market data shows improvements across the board compared to this time last year, reflecting a healthier employment picture across Merseyside.

The number of people claiming out-of-work benefits has fallen to 3,260, a reduction of 250 from this time 12 months ago, while the number of young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit in St Helens is 850, a fall of 95 from the same month last year.

That means there has been a 10 per cent drop in people aged between 18 and 24 out of work in the space of 12 months, with the overall claimants total dropping by seven per cent.

The statistics announced by the Government prompted a delighted response from the Jobcentre Plus, which said the picture at local, regional and national level was extremely healthy.

The optimism also contrasted with last month’s rise in unemployment figures, which the organisation said was explained by people leaving short-term contracts they took on over Christmas.

Alan Harrison from Jobcentre Plus St Helens said: “At this time of year we would normally expect employers to be looking at the prospects for jobs, both short-term and long-term, and retailers to be looking forward to spring and summer.

“We are also working on sector-based work acadamies, where employers deliver training to prospective candidates which means they are competing on a level playing field.

“We’ve got as many of those in the pipeline as we’ve ever had. That’s a good indicator that vacancies are up and employer engagement is up.

“We’ve now had almost 26 consecutive months where the claimant total is in decline, although we’ve had some little peaks and troughs like last months, and that is very positive.

“We do generally have vacancies in St Helens. They might not be the jobs you want to do for the rest of your life but they do provide employment so you can start to achieve.”

Across Merseyside the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming out-of-work benefits is now 6,850, a drop of 1,175 from 12 months ago, and there are a total of 29,220 people on JSA or Universal Credit, a drop of 2,270 from this time last year.

In addition North West employment now stands at an all-time high of 73.2 per cent, and the national employment rate is 74.1 per cent.

Mr Harrison said this is the closest the region has ever been to the UK employment rate.