Updated: Sunday, 22nd September 2019 @ 6:10am

On the up: Manchester economist welcomes recovery as unemployment falls and wages grow

On the up: Manchester economist welcomes recovery as unemployment falls and wages grow

| By Mihaela Ivantcheva

One of Manchester’s top economists has welcomed new figures which show job and wages growth picking up.

But the region's joy does come with some caution with the North West still bottom of the league when it comes to employment.

Following the publication of the latest labour market statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Christian Spence, Head of Business Intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, believes the recovery will become more ‘embedded’ this year.

Official data shows a continuing decline in UK unemployment.

For October to December 2013, compared with July to September 2013, the number of employed people increased by 193,000 to 30.15million and the number of people out of work fell by 125,000 to 2.34million.

And Mr Spence said: “Efforts in unemployment should now move from the headline figure to concentrating on those who are furthest from the labour market long-term unemployed.

"Those re-entering the labour market due to benefits reassessment will need considerable support to allow them to take full advantage of the improving economic climate."

The employment rate for people aged from 16 to 64 for the UK was 72.1 percent for the period October 2013 to December 2013.

However, far below this UK average, the North West is among the regions with the lowest employment rate at 68.6 percent, followed only by the North East at 67.4 percent.

The regions with the highest employment rate in Great Britain were the South East at 76.6 percent, with the East of England at 75.7 percent and the South West at 74.6 percent.

Over the year, the North West shows the largest decrease in the employment rate of 1.2 percentage points, preceded only by the West Midlands with a decrease of 1.7 percentage. Unemployment rate for the North West region for the period October to December 2013 was 8.1 percent.

The number of people claiming jobless benefits in the UK fell by 27,600 between December and January, to 1.22 million. Between January 2013 and January 2014, the number of jobseeker's allowance claimants fell by 327,600, in the largest annual fall in since March 1998.

“In Greater Manchester, a rise in the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance of just under 2,000 takes this number to 65,094 or 3.7 percent of the population, though this level is below that of November, so the trend remains positive. Youth unemployment measured by 18-to-25-year-olds claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has seen a commensurate small rise of 20 to 15,540, again not unexpected in January because of seasonal effects”, Mr Spence added.

Wages growth accelerated slightly to one percent between October and December, compared with 0.9 percent a year earlier, adding to hopes that earnings growth will start to outpace inflation by the end of 2014.

“There is very good news that pay levels are beginning to pick up in the New Year as we expected in our last economics report. Regular pay rose by one percent in the year to January 2014 with total pay a little stronger at 1.1 percent.

“This still means that earnings are falling in real terms, however, with yesterday's news that inflation now stands at 1.9 percent, the gap is closing and, whilst many people will not yet feel better off, the situation is at least improving and we expect this to strengthen further into the second quarter and the pay rounds in April”, Mr Spence concluded.

Picture courtesy of Helen Cobain, with thanks.