STAFFORD people claiming unemployment benefit fell to its lowest since in nearly five years, latest figures show.
In July 1,267 people made claims -18 less than in June and 221 less than July 2012 – representing 2.6 per cent of the economically active population aged 16-64.
Jeremy Lefroy MP welcomed the news and said it represented a healing economy moving toward recovery.
“We now have the lowest unemployment rate in Stafford constituency in 55 months,” he said.
Mr Lefroy said news that long-term claimants and young people out of work had reduced was encouraging but said there was more he could do.
“I remain determined to do everything I can to promote job creation in Stafford and encourage companies to invest in apprenticeships and training for staff,” he said. “Businesses in the West Midlands are reporting skills shortages while our regional unemployment rate remains well above the national average, we have to solve that skills gap and encourage firms to invest in people.
“But, with record numbers of people in work and growth in full time and permanent employment we are firmly on the road to recovery and businesses and individuals can be confident that Stafford is a great place to invest, do business, and create jobs.”
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economy and infrastructure Mark Winnington said July’s figures shows a fourth consecutive decrease in the numbers claiming job seekers’ allowance across the whole county.
“The county council, LEP and other partners are working hard to increase skills so that businesses have the workforce they need,” he said. “We are also attracting new business to the area and supporting existing companies – both larger firms like JCB and Alstom and our smaller enterprises.
“We are seeing continued positive announcements from Staffordshire businesses in terms of expansion and new jobs.
“Getting people back into work is an absolute priority for us and the fact that we have low unemployment rates compared to regional and national figures is extremely encouraging.”
Stephen Timms MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister, said while any rise in employment was to be welcomed the real story of the labour market was the crisis in living standards with falling wages and ‘millions working harder for less’.
“David Cameron says he’s fixed the economy but for ordinary families things are getting harder not easier,” he said. “Ministers just sound out of touch when they ignore the fact that the number of people who are working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job is at record levels.
“Ministers should be taking urgent action both to help middle and low income families and to bring down long-term unemployment with a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get anyone unemployed for more than two years into a paying job – one they would be required to take. Instead the Government are giving a tax cut to millionaires, with unusually high bonus payments as they cash in."