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Record low … jobless total down a massive 91%

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By Rod Edgar
Annan and Eskdale
Record low ... jobless total down a massive 91%

UNEMPLOYMENT in the area has fallen to its lowest since records began — standing at just 155 job seekers across the bulk of Annandale and Eskdale.

JOBLESS LOW . . . district manager Catriona Morton, left, deputy manager Angie Crawford and staff at the JobCentre Plus in Annan have recorded a record-low number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, with only 155 across most of Annandale and Eskdale

The figure marks a 91 per cent fall from a high of 1777 claimants in January 1987, with credit being given to growing companies and support from local training firms.
Annan JobCentre manager David Welch said: “Unemployment is at a record low, since we started counting. It’s a very good story that we have to tell.
“The food processing sector has been stronger this year than in memory, and we’re working well with all the employers and agencies involved.”
Claimant records date back to 1983 nationally and from 1987 at Annan’s JobCentre — which serves almost the entirety of Annandale and Eskdale.
And that job centre has seen the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance halve from 313 in October last year.
Mr Welch said: “With economic circumstances, you get downturns and upturns. At the moment we’re probably enjoying a growth that’s perhaps larger than it is elsewhere.
“Some sectors are doing particularly well. We know that hospitality has had a very good year, and food production is very much in full swing.”
And he added: “We’ve had new businesses opening in Gretna, at the Gateway centre.”
Numbers of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants increased at the start of the year, following the seasonal increase in jobs seen at employers such as Pinneys.
But Mr Welch says such companies are growing, and that in previous years far from every seasonal employee has returned to unemployment — with many kept on.
Gretna Gateway Outlet Village manager Peter Gardner says a staff headcount prior to the opening of the new Next store put it at 564.
He said: “We’ve got more people working here than ever. Next opened in August and since then they’ve been recruiting additional staff because they’ve been doing better than targeted.”
And Mr Gardner says he expects to see tenants occupy a further three vacant units as part of phase three of the Outlet Village in the spring, bringing the prospect of more jobs.



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