Employment up nationally but Blackpool is lagging

Gordon Marsden
Gordon Marsden
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Employment nationally has reached a record high with almost 32 million in work but wages are lagging and the number of people claiming work age benefits is up.

The latest monthly figures form the Office of National Statistics show that 372,000 more people than the same time last year are in work of some kind and unemployment has fallen to 1.53m.

The UK claimant count was up for the third month in a row in May to stand at 802,600.

Locally the number claiming benefits such as Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance has risen slightly but was still 18 per cent lower that at its worst in 2010.

In the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency, 1,675 people claimed benefits up 0.5 per cent on the same month last year.

Blackpool South had 2,290 claimants up 0.4 per cent, Fylde had 710, up 0.2 per cent, Lancaster and Fleetwood had 1,220 up 0.5 per cent, and Preston North and Wyre had 420, up 0.1 per cent.

Karl Crompton from the Blackpool Jobcentre Plus said there were a number of vacancies coming up in the area for unemployed people to apply for.

He said: “We are working with Grosvenor Casinos to fill eight job vacancies they have there , Coral Island has 15 and Blackpool Pleasure Beach 20.

“We are just starting work with Village Hotels, near the zoo. They are looking for 15 staff for a range of roles from hospitality to chefs and the spa and leisure teams.There is to be an information day at the Tyldesley Road Jobcentre on June 20.”

He said Blackpool Transport were looking for new staff including drivers and that they along with Blackpool Council were taking part in a Disability Confident initiative to make sure they were ready and able to accommodate disabled workers.

He added that the Jobcentre was also starting work with UR Potential on its Step Up scheme to help ex-offenders find work, including advice from former offenders who had moved on and were now working successfully full time.

Finally, he said 12 people had been taken on by Tangerine Confectionery in Blackpool.

Nationally, the Office for National Statistics also reported a fall in average earnings, which grew by 2.1 per cent in the year to April, down by 0.2 per cent on the previous month.

The fall was greater when measured over a three-month period, confirming that wages are falling behind the 2.9 per cent inflation rate.

Matt Hughes, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “Many labour market indicators remain strong, with the employment rate at a joint record high and the inactivity rate at a joint record low.

“On the other hand, with wage growth continuing to slow and inflation still rising, real pay is down on the year. This is now the case whether or not bonuses are taken into account.”

Of all people in work, 17 per cent were employed in the public sector, the lowest figure since records began in 1999.

Local government employment has fallen to a record low of 2.1 million, while jobs in private firms increased by 115,000 over the past quarter to 26.5 million, the highest on record.

There are now around one million fewer employees in the public sector compared with the peak of 6.4 million in 2009.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said the national figures hid the fact that people were not finding enough well paid work to replace the quality jobs lost in the public sector.

He said: “There has been very little positive change here in Blackpool.

“Whatever is happening with the national figures we are seeing no improvement. The unemployment rate is twice as bad as the rest of the North West and two and a half times worse than the national average.The figures do not take into account people on poor wages and zero hours contracts."

He said too many people were under employed – off benefits but not having enough hours and therefore wages to keep their families properly.

He added: “There are still strong structural weaknesses and not enough young people have access to the skills they need, while too many older unemployed people cannot get access to the training they need."