THE number of people claiming jobless benefits in Leeds has fallen for the 10th consecutive month, as Britain enjoys a huge fall in unemployment.
The number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance in the city fell by 600 in December, to drop below the 20,000-mark for the first time since 2009.
Unemployment fell by 8,000 across Yorkshire as a whole, and by a stunning 167,000 nationwide, over the last quarter - the biggest national drop since 1997.
Conservative MPs hailed the figures as proof the Government’s economic plan is working.
Stuart Andrew, the Tory MP for Pudsey, said: “Once again those claiming unemployment benefit has fallen, and I certainly welcome these steady numbers that indicate that more and more people are finding work.
“The job is not done, but new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show our long-term economic plan is working with the biggest rise in the number of people in work since records began.”
Labour also welcomed the news, but warned wages are still far too low - meaning many families are still feeling the squeeze.
Rachel Reeves, the MP for Leeds West and Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “These figures also show prices are still rising more than twice as fast as wages, which means working people are over £1,600 a year worse off on average under this Government.”
But local business leaders suggested many people’s wage levels will also finally begin to rise this year.
Chris Glen, West Yorkshire chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Another set of positive figures reflect what our members tell us about their recruitment intentions.
“While weak pay growth remains a concern, we are hopefully turning a corner - with seven in 10 small firms intending to increase staff pay in the next 12 months.” Is the jobs outlook getting brighter in Leeds? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you