The number of jobseekers in Hyndburn has fallen to a two-year low.

A total of 1,744 people were claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in September, representing 3.4 per cent of the working age population. That's a fall of 99 from the 1,843 claimants in August.

The last time the figure was so low was in December 2008, although jobseeker numbers in the borough are still double those of three years ago.

The fall reflects fluctuation in the employment of males, with just 1,249 male jobseekers compared to 1,351 the previous month. The female jobseeker rate has remained stable at around 2 per cent for the last 12 months.

Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: “This would appear to suggest the borough is coming out of recession, but one swallow does not make a summer.

“It's good news if these figures are moving in the right direction but the most important thing is whether the employment figures are also rising. If this equates to more people working it's exceptionally good news because it means more money coming into the economy. Next month Tesco will open and that should provide a dramatic jobs boost.”

He added that the recovery under the coalition government would have to be led by the private sector.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that employment nationwide has risen by 178,000, and unemployment fell by 20,000 this month.

Employment minister Chris Grayling welcomed the increase as a “step in the right direction”.

The figures accompany the drive to help those claiming incapacity benefits back into work. Reassessments of those on ill health benefits have recently begun in Burnley and will roll out nationwide next April.

Mr Grayling said: “Clearly our priority is to get the economy motoring again, reduce the deficit and make the UK an attractive place for investment to encourage growth.”

A full labour market profile for Hyndburn can be found at https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/reports/lmp/la/2038432056/report.aspx