UNEMPLOYMENT in Redditch has plummeted to a record low as the economic recovery gathers pace.
Official figures show 870 people were claiming jobseekers’ allowance in November down by 66 from October and by almost 500 on the same time last year. The figure beats the previous low of 915 recorded in November 2004.
Across Worcestershire 4,885 are now claiming the benefit down from over 7,600 at the same time last year.
Unemployment traditionally falls in the final few months of the year due to companies recruiting extra staff ahead of the Christmas period, before spiking in January.
But Jamie Jacobsen, from Job Centre Plus, said he did not expect to see a huge surge in unemployment in the new year.
“Part of my job is to support companies who are making redundancies and currently the number of companies that have been referred to us considering redundancies are far lower than they have been in previous years at this time of year so I’m not expecting a large rise in unemployment in January,” he said.
“Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict what will happen in two to three months time but at the moment there’s good indication of employers looking to come into the Worcestershire but we can’t give details at the moment as it’s commercially confidential.”
He added vacancies were also up for the time of year with 300 being added to their system in just seven days from companies looking to recruit in the Redditch area.
“Currently we are seeing a higher number of vacancies than we have seen for the last few years and they are coming in from all different sectors, both full and part-time.”
There is also evidence wages are starting to catch up with growth in the economy.
Figures from the Annual Hours and Earnings Survey show in 2014 the average weekly wage for workers in Redditch, including those who travel outside of the borough for employment, before deductions was £450.30, up from 2013 but still down from £473.40 in 2010. When everyone working in Redditch, regardless of where they live, is counted the figure rises to £490.60 which is broadly in line with the 2010 level of £491.70 However some economists question the accuracy of the data as the survey does not include the self-employed or many low paid workers.
Labour welcomed the news but said after four years of prices rising faster than wages people were still £1,600 a year worse off than in 2010.
But Redditch MP Karen Lumley said the fact wages were now rising faster than inflation made the good jobs figures even better news.
“This means not only do more people in Redditch have the security that a job brings but they are also keeping more of their own money when they are in work with family finances going further,” she said.