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Recession Busters: Local Economy on the Up
Tuesday 25th May, 2010

There are real signs of recovery in Wigan’s economy following the release of the latest employment figures.

The number of those out of work fell in April by 352 to 9,522, a fall of over three and a half per cent. This is the largest drop in unemployment in Greater Manchester.

Wigan Council’s cabinet champion for regeneration, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “It’s excellent news for the people of our borough. Of course every person who is out of work is one person too many, and that’s why we are continuing with a major programme to boost skills and jobs in our area.”

Council officers have been pushing hard for jobs with a package of investments locally. The latest Local Life Centre was formally opened this week in Platt Bridge, giving the public a portal into local services, including jobs searches.

Brand new Skills Shops have been another important innovation. Launched recently by Lord Alan Sugar in Wigan’s Grand Arcade, and with branches in Leigh and Marsh Green, the Skills Shops exist to offer advice and training targeted specifically at local people to lift them out of unemployment.

Unemployment in the borough stood at 10,214 – that’s 5.5 per cent of the working age population – at the start of the year. Meetings between senior council officers and the banks and local organisations such as credit unions, plus the launch of an apprentices’ scheme, have kept down home repossessions and unemployment figures.

In the first four months of the year 3,320 stopped claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance and found work - an increase of 28% over the same period in 2009. And since the start of the year, Future Jobs Fund has employed 165 people in Wigan, mostly aged 18-24 and resulting in an 8.5 per cent reduction in unemployment in this age group. Without the FJF, the reduction would have been just 4 per cent - well below the total drop.

“We have seen a percentage drop of nearly seven percent in unemployment this year,” adds Cllr Molyneux. “This is one of the best results in Greater Manchester and shows that the local economy is bearing up well. More importantly for individuals, it means people are keeping their jobs, and finding new ones too.”

The council’s regeneration team remain committed to measures to improve the local economy and is working with a variety of local partners to promote both support for those in employment and advice for those looking for work. The latest data reveals that the number of job vacancies reported within Wigan Borough increased 13 per cent on 2009 figures, demonstrating increasing confidence in the commercial sector of the local economy.

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