Mixed picture on Fylde coast over employment

Unemployment is down nationally but benefit claims are up
Unemployment is down nationally but benefit claims are up
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The number of people in work has reached a new record, while earnings have grown in line with inflation, new figures show.

Employment increased by 197,000 in the quarter to March to 32.3 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971, giving a record rate of 75.6 per cent.

Unemployment fell by 46,000 to 1.42 million, giving a jobless rate of 4.2 per cent, the lowest since 1975, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest snapshot.

Average earnings increased by 2.6 per cent in the year to March, down by 0.2 per cent the previous month. The latest CPI inflation figure is 2.5 per cent.

However the number of people claiming work age benefits such as Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance increased by 31,200 last month to 897,000, the highest for three years.

The figures on the Fylde coast were not as positive. The number of people claiming work benefits in Blackpool South was 2,525 up 0.3 per cent on the same month in the previous year. In Blackpool North and Cleveleys there were 1,785 claimants the same as last year, in Fylde 710, down 0.1 per cent on last year.

In Lancaster and Fleetwood there were 1,340 claiming, up 0.3 per cent and in Wyre and Preston North 440 the same as last year. In the North west as a whole there were 154,000 out of work up 8,000 on the last quarter an unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent.

Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden said: “I am afraid these figures are still bad news as we are still lagging behind both the North West and the picture nationally. There is little evidence that the government is doing anything specifically in areas like Blackpool. Until they do and until the economy improves, towns like ours will still be in the position they are.”

Blackpool North Conservative MP Paul Maynard welcomed the figures but said there was still room for significant improvement.

He said: “Blackpool Council needs to do more to support job creation and the growth and diversification of the local economy. Government schemes like the two enterprise zones and investment in transport infrastructure help but must be supported locally to ensure Blackpool’s figures match the positive picture we see nationally.”

Fylde Tory MP Mark Menzies said: “I’m pleased to see unemployment falling in Fylde both year-on-year and month-on month.

“The Government has been steadfast in its bid to get Britain working again. We now have a record high employment rate in the UK of 75.6 per cent, and in Fylde, the total number of unemployed claimants is just 1.9 per cent.

“I’m even more delighted to see wages rise by 2.9 per cent – higher than inflation – putting more money in people’s pockets for all of their hard work.”