New low for borough job seeker figures

UNEMPLOYMENT figures in Whitby and district and the rest of the borough have dropped to their lowest this year.

The number of people claiming job seekers allowance has dipped to 2,893.

The data, recorded for March this year, shows the first drop under 3,000 people since December 2010.

Figures peaked in February when the number topped 3,088; the highest recorded since March 2010 when it hit 3,231. of the 2,893 people claiming job seekers allowance last month 2,027 were male and 866 were female.

Although the number is dropping, standing at 4.4 per cent of the population in the borough, it is still higher than the national average which is 3.8 per cent.

Concerns have also been raised about people living in rural areas, and the difficulties they face finding work.

Huge uncertainty now surrounds many sections of the rural workforce who have previously not needed to excel academically, but now find their jobs are in jeopardy with little prospect of pursuing alternative careers.

The problems are made worse by poor public transport links and the soaring cost of fuel as people are forced to look further afield for work.

Whitby MP Robert Goodwill, whose family has been running a 250-acre arable farm near castle Howard since 1850, said: “The thing we really need to address is the people who find themselves at the bottom of the job market.

“There needs to be a transition from jobseeker to employee and the Government is attempting to get away from the benefits culture that has existed before. industries like farming are a way of life and many people are willing to work long hours for often little return.

“They want to keep the businesses going which have been in their families for years, but there is a danger they keep plugging away when other firms would have called it a day a long time ago.

“For a farmer in his 50s, there is a big question as to what he would do. But employers need to look at life experience as well as actual qualifications – the middle aged still have an awful lot to offer.”

Over the past five years the number of people claiming job seekers allowance in the borough has ranged between 1,490 in June 2008 to 3,453 in February last year.

People aged between 18 and 24 years have the highest percentage of claimants, with 8.1 per cent of the town’s youngsters claiming.

While unemployment figures in the borough are topping the national average, earnings are still falling below. official labour Market Statistics reveal the average gross weekly income for full time workers in Whitby and district is £456.10, compared to a national average £501.80.

The figures are equal to £10.61 per hour in comparison with £12.65 an hour nationally.

There is also still a pay gap between male and female wages, although the difference in the borough is smaller than that nationally.

In Whitby and district women working full time get paid on average £399.90 a week gross, compared to £487.30 for men.

The difference is £87.40. However nationally the difference is £101.90 with women earning £440 a week gross and men earning £541.90.