Major drop in unemployment

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More people in Burnley are now in work, according to new figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that unemployment in the town dropped to 3.5% in October, with the number of Job Seeker’s Allowance claimants dropping by 145 people in one month.

The number of apprenticeships has also increased sharply. Statistics show that in the four years to 2009/10 around 151,510 people began an apprenticeship programme in the North-West compared to 334,000 over the past four years.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle welcomed the figures and said the town’s success was due to its strong manufacturing sector.

He said: “These figures are most welcome in Burnley and I am absolutely delighted. The town is booming thanks to our strong manufacturing sector and boom in local jobs. The strong labour market performance hasn’t happened by accident.

“The Coalition Government has taken steps to ensure our labour market is fair and flexible.

“The employment growth that we are now witnessing is one of this Government’s key achievements. We are working hard to fix Labour’s economic mess while at the same time building a stronger economy and fairer society.

“This is encouraging and I am pleased that young people, in particular, are being given the right skills for work. Getting people into work will deliver long term growth and prosperity, and secure a better future for Burnley.”

However, there is still a fear in some quarters that many jobs are part-time and low-paid.

Stephen Overell, principal for skills and employment at think tank New Economy, said: “Looking at the North-West, this shows a further big drop in unemployment – the biggest drop of any UK region outside London.

“But there is justified concern that too many roles are part-time or self-employed and will not pay enough to cover individuals’, let alone families’, living costs.”