Decline in Manchester’s youth unemployment offers glimmer of hope – yet figures still up on last year

By Sophia Rahman

Many young jobseekers in Greater Manchester have found luck in recent months – though the landscape remains bleak compared to the same time last year, according to new figures.

The number of people aged 16-24 claiming jobseekers allowance declined by 900 (3.4%) to 24,400 between May and June, an indication of a resurgence in employment opportunities across the region.

However even with these promising figures, there are still 1,600 more people claiming in Greater Manchester than in June 2011 – a rise of 7.2%.

Dr Alex Roy, head of research at New Economy, a commission created to improve Manchester’s economic growth, said: “These statistics are compounded by the fact that many aspects of Greater Manchester’s economy remain extremely fragile.

“The uncertainty in the jobs market has a knock-on effect and is demonstrated by the slow activity in other areas such as housing and business.”

The figures for May come after it was revealed that youth unemployment was as high as one in five in some of the worst affected parts of the county.

Dr Brian Sloan, Chief Economist at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The figures reinforce the positive message for jobseekers that the private sector across our region is experiencing some growth, and with it creating jobs.

“Our Quarterly Economic Survey from the first quarter of this year accurately predicted this positive trend, however the scale of jobs actually created has not matched expectations showing that the current uncertainty over the economic outlook is putting a brake on appointments.

“Low growth and further public sector cuts to come will likely lead to an increase in the headline numbers in the following months, but we must focus on nurturing confidence as the potential for growth in our region is great.”

These combined factors lead Greater Manchester to currently have the highest youth unemployment of the North West.

Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Young people are our future and it is important for them to have the right skills, so that they are set up for life in the
working world. We are working hard to build up our young people’s skills through further education and training.”

“Key to our commitment is our ongoing work to create more apprenticeships in Manchester.

“This year, our successful Apprentice Revolution campaign received magnificent support from local employers, resulting in 300 new apprenticeships being created in just 100 days.

“Manchester City Council has itself recently taken on more than 100 apprentices and we look forward to reaping the rewards of our investment in Manchester’s young people.”

Manchester Monitor, which brings together data on the city’s crime statistics, business performance and housing and tourism markets, collated the results.

The Monitor found that in accordance with national trends, Manchester’s housing market is becoming increasingly sluggish.

Dr Roy said that the uncertainty in the jobs market has a knock-on effect and is demonstrated by the slow activity in other areas such as housing and business.

House prices across the region have fallen for 19 consecutive months, with the average property currently worth £105,000.

Take-up of non-domestic buildings has contracted in the second quarter of this year, dropping from 170,000 to 135,000 sq. ft of office space in the city.

“Our priority continues to be how we answer a difficult but essential question: How do we stimulate Greater Manchester’s economy to boost living standards in the region?” Dr Roy added.

He concluded that while the economy remains uncertain, ensuring Manchester’s future success and sustainability will rely on continued investment into large-scale building and infrastructure developments, such as the expansion of Metrolink, NOMA (Co-operative Group’s new headquarters), Airport City and One St Peter’s Square.

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