· Small increase in Greater Manchester claimant count directly related to seasonal, temporary hires.
· Chamber research suggests ONS under-25s data has been underestimated by 75%.
Commenting on today's release of labour market data from the Office for National Statistics, Christian Spence (pictured), Head of Business Intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:
“The UK labour market continues to perform well with headline unemployment falling to 5.7% in the latest data. The very small increase in the Greater Manchester claimant count does not concern us as it is directly related to seasonal effects common at this time of year, as temporary labour hired for the Christmas period is released. Using Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s own seasonally-adjusted JSA data for Greater Manchester, we continue to see a fall in the GM seasonally-adjusted claimant count of over 1,200 to 35,275, the lowest level recorded on this dataset since records began in 1984.
“Greater Manchester is a key test area for the introduction of Universal Credit. Those people who have started new claims via the Universal Credit system are not currently counted in the headline JSA rates. Research by the Chamber of Commerce suggests that the real number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in Greater Manchester is currently 45,210, 25% higher than the official statistics indicate. As young, single claimants are the key group being enrolled through Universal Credit, the discrepancy is higher still for those under 25. Our research suggests that 11,250 under-25s should be considered on out-of-work benefits in Greater Manchester, 75% higher than the official data.
“However, despite the variances caused by Universal Credit, the overall picture is a positive one with more people finding work as the Greater Manchester economy continues to grow. Support initiatives should become more ruthlessly focused on those who remain furthest from the labour market, and particularly the young, to reduce the risk of entrenched unemployment.”
Louise Timperley, Head of Skills and Employment at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce commented that whilst there are positive trends within the data, there is still a concern that young people are not getting the access to work experience and ‘first jobs’ that they need in order to progress into full time employment.