In my last column, I wrote about the recent budget and what it meant for the people of North Shropshire.
Since then a number of employment figures have been released which make for encouraging reading. Unemployment fell by 77,000 in the quarter to February to 2.24 million, a jobless rate of 6.9%, the lowest for five years, while the numbers in work has reached a record 30.3 million.
There were 30,400 fewer claimants of unemployment benefits in March, a total of 1.14 million; the 17th consecutive monthly reduction. Self-employment increased by 146,000 to 4.5 million, the highest since records began in 1992. Long-term and youth unemployment have also both fallen.
Average wages are now increasing by 1.7%, outstripping inflation for the first time since 2010. This means that, thanks to the hard decisions the Government has made, workers will start to see a real difference in their pockets.
With pay increasing in real terms and unemployment falling to new lows, more people are now in work and being paid more for it. Alongside reforms to welfare, the rising employment figures have led to a reduction in benefits paid out and a better deal for the UK tax payer.
I was particularly pleased to read that this trend is reflected in the figures for North Shropshire. In March last year 1,954 people were out of work. A year later and that number has shrunk to 1,554. A reduction of over 20% in a year is to be celebrated and puts the constituency ahead of the national average.
This success is driven by the many excellent businesses in North Shropshire employing skilled staff who are making innovative products at competitive prices. I look forward to visiting many of these companies over the coming months, to see for myself the excellent work that they are doing to increase wealth and create more new jobs.