20 people chasing every job

UNEMPLOYMENT has risen by more than seven per cent across the Express area in the last year.

Figures released by Wakefield Council for November 2011 - the latest available - show that there has been a 7.3 per cent increase in the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in the Hemsworth parliamentary constituency.

Based on the 2003 ward boundaries, the figures have increased by a massive 10.5 per cent in Hemsworth.

And 41 per cent of these are young people under the age of 24, with 13.9 per cent being unemployed for more than a year.

Shockingly, 20 people apply for every job vacancy that is advertised at the Jobcentre in the Hemsworth ward, compared to 4.2 in South Kirkby, 1.6 in South Elmsall and 4.7 nationally.

The number of claimants increased by 1.3 per cent in the South Elmsall ward and 0.7 per cent in the South Kirkby ward. The percentage of claimants who are under 24 is 36.5 in South Elmsall and 39.5 in South Kirkby.

Worryingly, the number of claimants in the Hemsworth parliamentary constituency has almost doubled in the last five years, although the statistics are now based on women working until their 65th birthday instead of their 60th.

This is despite numerous initiatives by Wakefield Council and partner agencies to help people find work, including setting up work clubs across the district in partnership with the council and Jobcentre Plus.

The Wakefield Enterprise Partnership (WEP) is launching a campaign to encourage local businesses to offer more apprenticeships and is consulting on its draft economic growth plan, which prioritises addressing unemployment, particularly among young people, over the next five years.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “These figures, whilst disturbing, are not surprising. The government was warned in 2010 that its massive public spending cuts would damage the economy and 18 months down the line the unemployed in this area are paying the price for the government’s decision not to invest in growth.

“The number of young people unemployed is particularly tragic but economic forecasts indicate that matters are not set to improve in 2012 and we are expected to move into a recession.”

Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic growth, said: “We will continue to do all we can to support and develop employment opportunities across the district.

“We will be stepping up our efforts to bring new jobs into the district and the wider city region, with new opportunities being created with the regeneration of Wakefield City and progress in the Five Towns. The aim of the council is to further diversify the local economy to bring in a greater range of job opportunities locally and in the city region.”