St Helens jobs market hits blip as claimant count rises

A Jobcentre Plus
A Jobcentre Plus
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The jobs market in St Helens hit an unexpected bump in the road as the number of people on out-of-work benefits rose.

The borough's claimant count for April of 3,330 was a six per cent increase on that recorded at the same time in 2017.

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However, the number of young jobseekers aged between 18 and 24 needing out-of-work support fell, with a figure of 735 compared to 765 in April 12 months ago.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) bosses were at something of a loss to explain the rise in claimants but said there was no indication of alarm bells ringing in the local economy.

DWP spokesman for Merseyside Clive Morris said: "This is definitely away from the usual curve because St Helens is usually very strong and similar areas in the region have either stayed the same or nudged down a bit.

"We can't really say why this might be but the overall trends are definitely downwards. It's a bit of a shame to see rises on a month-by-month basis but we are happy with the trends and there's nothing to suggest there is anything significant in it.

"Staff on the ground in St Helens say employers are approaching us and lots of work is being done with our customers.

"It is also very encouraging to see that continual downward trend among 18-to-24-year-olds."

Mr Morris said there were vacancies available in sectors such as care and warehousing work, either in St Helens or in locations such as Haydock easily accessible for residents along the motorway network.

Nationally the unemployment rate in April hit 4.2 per cent, the lowest in decades, while the percentage of those in work rose to a record 75.6 per cent.

The Jobcentre Plus has also launched a new Find A Job service which it hopes will connect employers and those looking for work more easily.