Bedford Borough can boast an impressive fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in figures released today.
The area shows an overall decrease of adults claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) of 32 per cent from this time last year, dropping to 2,930 people from 4,315 in August 2013.
The good news statistics mirror the figures nationally with unemployment dipping below 1 million, which is the largest annual fall in a quarter of a century, falling by 468,000, bringing the unemployment rate to a new 6-year low of 6.2%.
The employment rate, at 73%, is also back up to the level seen before the recession with 30.61 million people in work.
James Snelling Bedford Job Centre Plus Manager said: “We’ve seen another 2.5 per cent reduction in unemployment figures from last month in Bedford.
“The economy improving has helped and these results show we are again moving in the right direction.
“Job Centre Plus has continued to support the residents of Bedford.
“There’s more positivity in the area in terms of people who visit us and you can see the difference in how people feel.”
The number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in Bedford Borough fell from 1,090 in August 2013 to the latest figure of 630, a reduction of 42.2 per cent. Mr Snelling said: “There’s been some big opportunities opening up in Bedford including the new Center Parcs so it’s about capitalising on the vacancies as they arrive.”
Although earnings nationally are 0.7 per cent higher than 2013 with inflation running at 1.5 per cent, there was a note of caution with figures showing wages in real terms contiuning to fall.
Mr Snelling added: “Our focus is people are better off in work than on benefits so it’s still an increase on what they would be receiving on benefits and is the first stage to them being better off.”
There was also a national rise of 9.9 per cent in the number of people becoming self-employed year on year.
Mr Snelling explained: “There is a take up of self-employment but we know the ecomony is driven by micro business more than previously so it’s something we would encourage our customers to do if they have a viable model .
“If they grow their businesses to a point where they can take on extra staff they recognise people who are in similar positions to them and look to us to fill their vacancies in the same way we helped them to get into work themselves.”
And Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, added: “Creating jobs is central to building a stronger, resilient and stable economy.”