Greater Manchester Christmas dole queues among longest in country – and JSA claimants to rise again in new year

By Alex Bysouth

The number of jobseekers in Greater Manchester this Christmas will be among the highest in the country, despite the festive period meaning a short term drop in unemployment figures.

Figures released this week show 83,400 people in Greater Manchester claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance during November 2012 – a drop of 1,100 people from October.

But this is a rise of 2.0%, an extra 1,600 people claiming than in November 2011 and well above the average for Great Britain, which has seen a 1.8% decrease in claimants.

Baron Frankal, director of economic strategy at New Economy said the plentiful supply of temporary jobs at Christmas always provides a boost to the jobs market.

“Whilst this is good news in the short term, it is always the case that the number of JSA claimants then increases in the New Year as these temporary roles come to an end,” he said.

“The seasonal boost therefore is great for the economy and for those finding temporary work, but mustn’t mask the hard slog that the job market still is, and will remain into the New Year.”

Marks and Spencer is an example of a major retailer who employs temporary seasonal workers but only a small percentage of these jobseekers will be offered long-term employment.

A Greater Manchester Marks and Spencer staff member said: “We take on an additional 25% of our total head count in the space of three months, October, November and December.

“More often than not we keep some on and we keep the best on, but out of say 30 people we may keep ten, but we keep the ten best.

“But it depends on whether we have enough resourcing budget to afford them in quarter four, which is January, February, March when everyone tightens their books.

“We have all sorts, single mothers, mums trying to get out the house before the Christmas period, unemployed people who go from job to job and students who come back for a couple of weeks each year.”

But in some industries, the run up to Christmas and the winter months signals a decline in available work.

Edward Mahon a 23-year-old sports coach from West Didsbury is currently unemployed after his community coaching contract with Bury FC ran out.

“My contract ran out last week and although it wasn’t guaranteed to be renewed, it came as a surprise that it wasn’t,” he said.

“Because my contract finished a third of the way through the month, the money that I put away for Christmas now has to be used on other things such as petrol, rent etc.

“In the sport and leisure industry, works dries up due to the weather and a lot of clubs already have their staff for the season and don’t look to rehire until the summer.”

But Greater Manchester is following a national trend, seeing long term claimants – those claiming for more than six months – drop by 800 people between November and October this year.

Although for one Longsight-based 21-year-old wanting to be named only as Dean, the search for employment goes on.

“I’m on Jobseekers Allowance as otherwise I wouldn’t be able to buy food or pay my rent,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard at Christmas time when I can’t afford to buy my brother and sister or my girlfriend the things I actually want to get them.

“I try and do the things the job centre tell me will help me become more employable, but I’ve been knocked back by so many places, over a long period of time and it’s pretty hard to take.”

Picture courtesy of jovike, with thanks.

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