York’s economy ‘rode out slump through 2013’

York Press: . .

YORK’S leaders say the city has coped well with the economic crisis in 2013 after new figures showed the number of benefit claimants had hit an all-time low.

Official labour market statistics have recently shown that only 6.6 per cent of the working age population in York – 8,810 people – was dependent on key out-of-work benefits six months ago.

The figure compares with 7.5 per cent, or 9,860 people, in May 2011 and 8.3 per cent, or 10,840 people, at the height of the recession in February 2010.

The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance has also fallen again recently to 2,195, or 1.6 per cent of the working age population, down from 2,590 in May.

At the same time, Job Centre Plus has reported 2,214 job vacancies in the city, up from 1,504 a year ago.

Coun James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said the proportion of residents relying on benefits had fallen faster than the regional and national averages since his party had taken control of the council, and the city’s economy was outperforming the national average.

“We can look forward to the opening of new employers at Hiscox and John Lewis, among others, with confidence,” he said.

“They will bring more quality jobs for York residents.

“Of course we still have big challenges: rooting out in-work poverty by helping employers to pay at least the Living Wage, and tackling the high cost of housing in York, but we have made solid progress that is cutting the benefits bill and putting money in the pockets of local people.”

Coun Alexander said the city’s future could not be secured without decent jobs for residents.

He said: “Most people want to work when there are jobs available.”

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