THE drop in the number of Woking residents claiming unemployment benefits has been hailed as an example of the town’s thriving economy.
The total claimant count for Woking – for all ages – as at September this year stood at 390, of which 60 were in the 18-24 age group.
Compared with five and 10 years ago, this shows total claimant figures dramatically down, respectively, by 64% (-683 claimants) and 68% (-821 claimants).
“Woking’s thriving businesses continue to hire people and new businesses are also being attracted to our town,” said Woking MP Jonathan Lord. “Unemployment levels in Woking are now at historic lows.”
For those in the 18-24 age group, the long-term fall in claimants is even sharper compared with the same five and 10 year periods. These show a drop, respectively, of 76 percent (-195 claimants) and 82% (-270 claimants).
The latest statistics show that in the South East as a whole, there are a near record number of people in work at 4.593 million and, at 79.2%, the employment rate is also a near-record level. At 3.3% the South East’s unemployment has fallen on the year and is one percentage point below the national rate of 4.3%.
“I think the Government is setting the right policies and providing the right framework for financial stability and the sensible growth of the economy; but it is always businesses and entrepreneurs that have to continually innovate and provide the real prosperity on which we all rely,” said Mr Lord.
However, Will Forster, the Lib Dem borough councillor for Hoe Valley and county councillor for Woking South, sounded a note of caution.
“Although Surrey’s economy continues to be extremely strong and employment is at record levels, we are clearly seeing warning signs about the health of our economy – especially as a result of Brexit,” he told the News & Mail.
“BAE recently announced it will cut nearly 2,000 jobs including some in Guildford, and the owner of Vauxhall will lay off 400 people at its plant in Ellesmere Port. The pound has lost 20% of its value in a year, our balance of trade and productivity are poor, and the UK has fallen to the bottom of the growth league for major economies,” added Mr Forster.
“I am worried the public are starting to pay the price for the government’s economic mismanagement and desire for Brexit at all costs.”
Statistics from Nomis, which monitors the latest labour market figures, suggest that Woking is an ever more powerful magnet for senior business and professional managers and directors.
For example, 62.3% of Woking’s employed population falls within classifications for managers, directors and senior officials; professional occupations; and associate professional and technical personnel.
The figure of 62.3% for Woking compares with 49.9% for the same categories in the South-east and 45.5% for Britain as a whole.
Woking also has a higher proportion of those with NVQ4 occupational qualifications. Some 51.3% fall into this category for Woking, compared, respectively, with the South East (41.4%) and the country as a whole (38.2%).