Figures released today show that 35,500 people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Greater Manchester in February this year. In addition to JSA, there were 11,500 people in Greater Manchester in February who were out of work and were claiming Universal Credit. This gives a combined JSA/UC figure of 47,000 – which is 30.0% lower (20,000 fewer people) when compared with the same time last year.
Commenting on the data Stephen Overell, principal for employment and skills at New Economy, said:
“Greater Manchester’s jobs market continues to improve, providing the Chancellor with a helpful backdrop for the last Budget of the parliament. Far fewer people claim JSA today than before the recession. Back in January 2008, before the financial crisis, there were 42,000 people claiming JSA. This compares with 35,000 today.
“But while this is good news for the state, which has to pay out less in benefits, the economic reality is more complicated. People leave JSA for other reasons than getting a job. Getting sanctioned is one reason. Not far off 10% of claimants get sanctioned each year in the city region for failing to comply with assorted requirements and only a small number of these (about a fifth, according to research) will move into work; most will decide JSA is not worth the hassle and try to get by some other way.
“And it is also important to remember that the JSA totals need to be added to the out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit. Factoring these in means there is still some way to go before claimant numbers are below the level prior to the recession (47,000 compared with 42,000).
Finally, getting into work is one thing and getting into decent work is another. Some new jobs pay poorly, are insecure and have few prospects for advancement. The largest single jobs growth sector in Greater Manchester is employment agencies, for example. While wages are beginning to improve with above inflation rises helping ease the cost of living, approximately a quarter of jobs pay less than a living wage. The labour market challenge is both to help people get jobs and also to help them move up in jobs once they have them.”
Image © Martyn