by David Skentelbery
YOUTH unemployment remains a key problem in Warrington - despite a slight fall in the number of young people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in recent months.
Unemployed 16-24 year-olds make up more than a quarter of the total of the 4,949 people unemployed across the borough.
And while Warrington's jobless rate is, at 3.8 per cent, better than for the North West as a whole, 4.6 per cent and the UK as a whole, 4.0 per cent, the situation in the town's most deprived areas - Bewsey and Whitecross, Fairfield and Howley, Latchford East, Orford, Poplars and Hulme and Poulton North - is much worse at 10.1 per cent.
Of these, 24.7 per cent have been out of work for more than six months and 24.3 per cent for more than a year, according to a report to be considered by the borough council's economy and resources scrutiny committee.
The drop in the number of young unemployed is, at -0.9 per cent, greater than in the North West as a whole, -0.2 per cent and the UK as a whole, -0.1 per cent.
The improved situation is mainly accounted for by short-term young unemployed. The number of young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance has continued to rise, although less quickly than nationally or in the North West.
The report identifies local and national initiatives designed to drive down unemployment, including support and training for unemployed people and leverage through planning procedures requiring developers to agree to employ local people where possible.
Unfortunately, the report adds, the impact of the recession is still being felt.
Some employers believe they need no help to recruit staff because there are so many good candidates to choose from, meaning people at the back of the queue remain there.
Many employers cannot afford to recruit staff at all - particularly apprentices where they have to pay the bulk of the wages cost but also contribute towards training costs, the report adds.