Mixed news for local job seekers

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The number of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in the Lancaster district fell last month.

But year on year figures show an increasing number of people have been claiming for more than a year.

The number of JSA claimants in the area covered by Lancaster City Council fell from 2,913 in February to 2,879 in March.

That is down from 2,964 in March 2012, but up from 2,695 last September. Of these people, 655 – nearly a quarter – have been claiming for more than a year, up from 545 in March 2012.

The number of JSA claimants aged 18-24 also fell slightly last month, from 775 to 770, down from 935 in March 2012.

Of these young people, 95 have been claiming for more than a year, up from 65 in March 2012.

In March 2008, pre-recession, there were 1,641 JSA claimants in the district, including 550 young people.

Claire Chapman, chief executive of the Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce, said; “It’s positive that the number of claimants has fallen, but the increase in long term unemployed, particularly young people, demonstrates that the system is currently failing to support these people into work.

“At the same time, ironically, many local businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled personnel they need.

“Focus on employability is vital if we are to avoid reliving the jobless generation of the 1980s.”

She added that the chamber was developing links between training organisations like Lancaster and Morecambe College and businesses to ensure the right skills training was available.