BOLTON’S three Labour MPs have given a guarded welcome to the continued fall in unemployment.

Figures for the final quarter of 2013, released yesterday, reveal the UK jobless total at 2.34 million — down by 125,000, giving an overall rate of 7.2 per cent.

In the North West, 277,000 people are unemployed — a fall of 6,000 — but the total is above the national average at 8.1 per cent.

Nationally, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance dipped to 1.22 million in January, down by 27,000, the 15th consecutive monthly fall.

More women are in work than at any time since records began in 1971, at just above 14 million, the data from the Office for National Statistics showed.

Bolton West MP Julie Hilling said: “The fall is welcome but I have asked the various departments for a breakdown of these figures.

"For example, how many people in work are on zero-hours contacts, on the minimum wage or working eight or 16 hours a week?

"So far they have been unable to tell me.The reality is that we don’t know how many of these people are in real jobs.

"If people are still on a phenomenally low wage, we are not taking people out of poverty or benefits.”

She said 30 per cent of people using the Atherton Food Bank in her constituency were in work, but still unable to feed themselves, adding: “What we need is a closer analysis of the figures.”

Bolton North East MP David Crausby also said it was good news that unemployment was “heading in the right direction”.

He added: “It is good news on the back of years and years of bad news. We have got to be encouraged by it but the problem is that inflation is still rising faster than average earnings.

“The fact is that the average worker is still 10 per cent worse off than he was when this government came to office.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Quereshi said: “Any fall in unemployment is a good thing but I don’t think it’s enough.

“The government should not be complacent and it needs to do more. There are 900,000 young people still unemployed and 250,000 of those have been out of work for more than year.

“There are also too many people on the minimum wage. The majority of people claiming benefits are working so in reality people are getting no better off.”