"Data published today by the Office for National Statistics shows the labour market in the UK, and particularly in Greater Manchester, is continuing to recover well. With UK unemployment standing at 6% for the third quarter (down from 6.3% on the previous quarter and from 7.6% a year ago) and full-time employment increasing quickly, even the figure for average earnings has begun to move upwards to 1.3%, slightly above the rate of inflation giving the first real-terms pay increase for over five years.
"In Greater Manchester, the picture is also very positive. The overall Jobseeker's Allowance claimant count now stands at just under 42,000, a 6.3% decrease in just one month and 40% lower than a year ago. This is now the lowest figure since the end of 2007, before the recession began. The fall of 40% over the past twelve months is a bigger decrease than that seen nationally (30%) and in the North West (37%), though the overall rate remains slightly higher at 2.4% compared to 2.2% for the UK and the region. Oldham has seen the quickest fall over the past year with claimant count down 49% since October 2013.
"The youth (under-25s) claimant count has performed even more strongly. With under 9,000 young people in Greater Manchester claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, this figure is now the lowest since records began in 1985 and is 12% lower than the previous month at 50% lower than one year ago. All Greater Manchester boroughs have seen a fall of at least one-third over the past year, with Oldham again the best performer with a fall of 66% since this time last year.
"As the labour market continues to improve, with vacancy rates now close to those of the pre-recession high, greater pressure will be placed on employers as finding the right skills for their business will become harder. This may place further pressure on pay awards as companies compete more heavily to place the right people into their new positions. For much of the labour force, the continued recovery will support them into employment over the coming months and beyond, but government, both locally and nationally, must focus its efforts on those people furthest from the labour market, ensuring that no-one is needlessly left behind and that the recovery benefits every part of our society."