Figures released today (18 February 2015) show that 36,115 people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Greater Manchester in January – an increase of 628 (1.8%) when compared with the figure for December 2014 of 35,487.
The North West saw a monthly increase of 0.5%, while for Great Britain the rise was 3.7%. Over the year, the Greater Manchester claimant count has decreased by 44.5% compared to a decrease of 42.5% in the North West and in 32.1% Great Britain.
The start of the year often demonstrates some seasonal volatility in the claimant count. As a proportion of the resident working-age population, 2.1% of people in Greater Manchester were claiming JSA in January – higher than the North West (2.0%) and Great Britain (2.0%).
Meanwhile, the national roll-out of Universal Credit has begun across the country and the number of people making the transition onto the new benefit in Greater Manchester is increasing. There were 9,120 people claiming Universal Credit principally because they were not in work in January. This represents an increase of 1,490 (19.5%) from last month and is 7,190 greater than the previous year.
Young people claiming JSA fell by 185 (2.8%) in January and have fallen by 9,155 (58.6%) comparing January 2015 with a year earlier. Longer term claimants also saw a fall of 130 (0.8%) on the month and 13,065 (44.6%) over the year.
Commenting on the data Stephen Overell, principal for employment and skills at New Economy, said: “Claimant count unemployment experienced the traditional rise in January. Although at first glance this might appear to be the return of bad times to the labour market, we do not anticipate that this marks the end of the period of growing employment we have seen. Instead, it reflects the typical pattern of workers taken on in the run-up to Christmas getting laid off afterwards and having to sign-on temporarily. It tends to happen every year – a seasonal blip that does not alter the longer term trend of falls. There continues to be steady improvement among long term unemployed and young people.
“Factoring in Universal Credit, the true number of unemployed claimants in Greater Manchester is 45,235. Once these people are added the yearly fall in the claimant count in Greater Manchester begins to look less dramatic.
“Something to watch in the future is the other key measure of unemployment – the official unemployment rate, as opposed to the numbers claiming benefits. The North West saw a rise on this measure of a relatively modest 11,000 people in the fourth quarter of 2014 – when most other regions of the UK experienced falls (London is another exception). It’s far too early to say if this suggests the strengthening labour market recovery is faltering in the region, but just makes the North West unusual at a period when unemployment falls were the general pattern.”
Image © Smabs Sputzer