Jobless figure continues to rise

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SPIRALLING levels of unemployment left 165 more St Helens people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance last month than in August.

And, worryingly, the number of local young people claiming out of work benefits remained well above the regional and national averages.

Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics showed that, across St Helens, 5,639 people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) last month - an 18-month high.

That stat marked a jump of 165 more unemployed people since August, 390 since July and 543 since June.

Dave Watts, the MP for St Helens North, told the Reporter: “We believe that the cuts were introduced too fast and too deep for the private sector to take up the slack. This government has no policy whatsoever for economic growth and, without that, jobs will go.

“Obviously, my concern is my constituents, who are suffering as a result of rising unemployment. And I’ve asked the Chancellor for a U-turn - we need him to come up with a package to get the economy moving forward.

“Everybody knows that we need to cut the deficit, but not at the expense of economic growth.”

With one in 20 of the local working age population now claiming out of work benefits, the proportion of St Helens JSA claimants was also considerably higher than both the regional and national averages.

More than 3,700 of the JSA claimants were men - a jump of 131 compared to August and 242 compared to July.

Of the local JSA claimants, 1,860 were aged 18-24, 3,010 aged 25-49 and 720 aged 50-64 and more than 750 jobseekers have claimed JSA for at least 12 months.

Alarmingly, 12 per cent of local 18-24 year olds are now claiming JSA - a figure which is significantly higher than the North West (9.1 per cent) and national (8.1 per cent) averages.

According to Job Centre Plus, there were 1,113 unfilled vacancies in St Helens last month. But that figure still represents just one job vacancy for every five JSA claimants.