There is barely a day goes by without a new story in both national and local media about another set of public sector job cuts. The government are pinning their hopes on private sector job growth at a faster rate than public sector job losses so yesterday's news that the UK's economy contracted by half a percent in the last quarter would have made very gloomy reading for them. Of course that level of economic performance is not evenly spread across the country and again yesterday we had our monthly look at how Manchester's local economy is doing.
Our economic barometer looks at a number of indicators including unemployment and claimants data, city centre retail performance, hotel occupancy rates, and number of major planning applications submitted. Unemployment is still significantly higher than two years ago, but in December was 3% lower than the previous month, and 6% better than a year ago. Long-term unemployment amongst the 18-24 age range is more than 18% lower than a year ago but we do have major concerns for when Future Jobs Fund comes to an end. City Centre retail was booming in November compared both two previous years and the national figures. Underpinning this is that over the last decade or so, the Manchester economy has become more diverse and more resilient.
We also had a look at the most recent Greater Manchester wide members quarterly survey carried out by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. That also showed promising signs of recovery for service industries and for manufacturing but with one notable exception. Construction still appears to be struggling and as a very labour intensive industry that will continue to have a negative impact on jobs.
These are only indicators but do allow us to take a snapshot view of the Manchester economy which appears to be back into growth and out performing the national average. Might be clutching at straws but will take good news where-ever I can get it at the moment.