This in an unsurprising story. It is not a cheerful story. It is a story that will inevitably get worse. But it is important an important story for our community in Ludlow and for Shropshire.
More people are out of work and are signing on for benefits. In Ludlow, the number of claimants – people looking for work – grew by 8% between July and August. This is nowhere near as big a jump we saw at the beginning of lockdown but it is an upward trend in a time when jobs are being destroyed, not created.
Over the last year, Ludlow claimants have increased from 155 to 465 people – a 268% increase. This is higher than the Shropshire and national trends, especially in the Ludlow North ward where the annual growth was 344%.
This is the second of a monthly series on unemployment data. I don’t intend to depress or scare people with the numbers but we do need to understand what is happening in our community during and after the exceptional events of 2020. There are also fears that the number of people looking for work will rise when the furlough scheme ends at the end of October.
The annual growth was highest for claimants aged 25 to 49 years (307%), followed by ages 16 to 24 (267%), and aged 50 years and over (209%). The graph below suggests that claimants aged 25 to 49 have been hardest hit by lockdown.
It remains to be seen whether Ludlow North is being more affected by job losses than the rest of Ludlow and Shropshire. It is a trend I will keep an eye on.
In this article, Ludlow is the three wards of Ludlow East, Ludlow North and Ludlow South. The North and South wards include areas of Ludlow’s rural hinterland.
Jobless figures, which many of us think of as the sum of the dole queues of old, are not straightforward to interpret. The replacement of Jobseekers Allowance by Universal Credit increased the numbers of those counted as looking for work. This seems to have added around ten to eleven per cent to the count locally over the last few years. During lockdown, Universal Credit was expanded to include people whose income had fallen below a minimum during lockdown. Despite these caveats, the grim reality is that unemployment is rising in Ludlow, in Shropshire and across the country.