UNEMPLOYMENT across Bolton has fallen again to almost pre-recession levels, the government announced yesterday.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows there are now 6,133 people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Bolton (JSA), the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of the population.

It means more than 2,000 people have come off unemployment benefits in the last year, and unemployment is at a five-year low.

The number of JSA claimants is now close to December 2008 levels, when it stood at 5,965.

Bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions are hailing the economic recovery as the reason for the rise, but critics argue that many of the jobs created are part-time or zero-hour contracts, and are not sustainable employment.

Greater Manchester Jobcentre Plus manager Trisha Hallow said the latest figures were good news for Bolton.

She said: “I think generally the economy is on the up, and we have seen more jobs created across the board.

“We do have people going into zero-hour contracts, but from there, they are ending up with full-time jobs.

“Youth unemployment is also dropping month by month, and we’ve seen a decrease in Bolton.

“Apprenticeships are on the up, and more people are going into apprenticeships to gain experience.

“We also have voluntary work experience opportunities, and that’s proving really valuable and making a difference, either when they are taken on at the end or finding full-time work very quickly after a placement.”

Bolton south east — covering Farnworth, Little Lever, Deane and Daubhill — has the highest unemployment rate of the town’s three constituencies with one in 25 residents, or 2,705 people, claiming JSA.

MP Yasmin Qureshi said: “Obviously I welcome any job creation but these are very much part time, low paid jobs, jobs without security and don’t make people socially or economically better off.

"These are not proper local jobs — many are on zero hour contracts where people are keen to get anything, and they deserve a lot better than that.”