THE continued fall in unemployment across Uttoxeter is masking wider issues in the job market, according to Labour’s parliamentary candidate.
The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, revealed that the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in East Staffordshire has dropped from 1,783 to 1,675 during July – a drop of 108.
This is 332 fewer people out of work than at this time last year, and means just 2.3 per cent of the East Staffordshire population are currently unemployed – well below the national average.
In Uttoxeter alone, the town ward had 56 people unemployed in July, which was the lowest it has been since December 2010 when it was 50 and was down one person since June.
Over in the Uttoxeter heath ward, 67 people were left looking for a job in July, which is the lowest it has been since June 2011 when it was again 67 and was down four people compared to June.
However, Labour’s Uttoxeter parliamentary candidate Jon Wheale told the Advertiser this masked the issues of a job market ‘dominated by insecure, low-waged employment’.
He said: “The small fall in the jobless total is to be welcomed, but 1,602 on Job Seekers allowance is still too many and I am concerned that these figures hide a lost generation of young people being consigned to the dole queue.
“Youth unemployment in Burton, Uttoxeter and the villages remains a serious concern.
“Nationally for those aged 16-24, it increased by 15,000 to 973,000.
“The working world is now pockmarked by low-waged, insecure employment.
“How many jobs that are available in East Staffordshire are minimum waged, temporary or on a zero hour contract?
“Yes, always talk up the economy, but it must be remembered that the cost of living crisis is a reality as energy, food, child care, and transport costs soar and wages lag way behind inflation.
“The people of Burton, Uttoxeter and the villages deserve better than this.
“We need the creation of more ‘real’ jobs paying decent wages; more help to get our young talents off the dole queues and the long term unemployed back to into work; and an economic policy that pumps demand into the economy.”
Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths said the latest job figures showed the economy was ‘responding well’ locally and said it was important to ‘encourage confidence’.
He said: “This is the latest in a series of incredibly positive and encouraging numbers both for East Staffordshire and the country.
“These are the best unemployment figures since the General Election and further demonstrate that the economy locally is responding well and moving in the right direction.
“However, there is still a great deal of work to do but I think the most important thing is to talk the economy up and encourage confidence that is returning to people across the country.”
Chris Plant, director of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, said further efforts were needed to help businesses create jobs.