The number of job seekers in Ripon has fallen by more than half in two years, latest figures show.
The statistics for the quarter ending February 2014 showed there were 137 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across Ripon’s Minster, Moorside and Spa wards – down 54 per cent from 298 claimants in February 2012 and the lowest February figure since 2008 when there were 104 claimants.
The figures have been heralded by the city’s MP, Julian Smith (Con), who was “delighted” the number of claimants was down from five years ago (253 in 2009, down 46 per cent) and from a year ago (200 claimants in 2013, down 32 per cent) following the 2012 peak of 298 claimants.
“Ripon is bouncing back from the economic challenges of recent years and I’m delighted that unemployment has nearly halved in five years and fallen so dramatically in the past 12 months,” he said.
“This is thanks to the city’s brilliant businesses, which are creating new jobs and taking risks to boost the economy.
“I want to see unemployment keep falling, so we have to stick to our long-term plan so businesses can keep creating opportunities for hard-working people.”
Broken down by ward, Ripon Minster ward had the highest number of claimants in February with 64, while Spa had 38 and Moorside 35 – equivalent to decreases of 55 per cent, 57 per cent and 51 per cent in each respective ward compared with two years ago.
Stephen Craggs, vice chairman of Ripon and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said some employers in the city were finding it difficult to recruit people from within Ripon who had the necessary skills.
“I don’t think we are alone in Ripon in having a skills shortage,” he said.
“A lot of employers have to rely on staff coming from further afield rather than have all their staff from Ripon.”
The chamber of trade is due to meet tonight to discuss a survey it has carried out as part of its Re-thinking Ripon project, figures for which were being collated as the Gazette went to press yesterday, and among the issues addressed is the quality of the labour market in Ripon.
“The general feedback is that we seem to have to scout beyond the city for skilled- and semi-skilled workers,” said Mr Craggs.