Monday, 3 October 2011

Manchester's Labour and housing struggles so thank goodness for tourists and shoppers

The latest Manchester Monitor is out today.

Here is the report

With the exception of the gold industry, it is safe this month to say that virtually all other parts of the global economy have seen better times. Traditionally viewed as an economic safe haven, the price of gold reached record highs in September as investors sought refuge in the precious metals market. However, the picture elsewhere is not so bright and the markets are waiting anxiously to see whether a solution can be found to the eurozone debt crisis.

Against this background, the UK economy remains in an extremely fragile state and the International Monetary Fund said in September that it expects the economy to expand by just 1.1% in 2011 than the 1.5% it had predicted in June. Adding to this, inflation has risen to 4.5% as a result of higher prices for clothing and footwear, petrol and energy. In addition, construction activity declined in the first half of the year, manufacturers reported falling order books for September and unemployment continues to rise. With the very real threat of a double dip recession now looming, the Bank of England has opened the door for another round of quantitative easing worth £50 billion and some analysts believe that this could restart in November.

Greater Manchester is by no means immune to the economic uncertainty, and in particular to the impacts that this is having on the labour market. The number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in GM grew by more than 6,000 in the 12 months to August 2011, while long-term and youth JSA claimant numbers are continuing to rise on a monthly basis.

The housing market is still subdued, with people unable to find the high deposits required to purchase properties and sales are currently at their lowest level nationally for two years. This issue is being exacerbated by the fact that rental levels houses in GM have increased year-on-year as a result of increased demand and a lack of properties on the market. A typical 3 bed apartment now costs just under £990 per month to rent, a rise over the last 12 months of 3.2. An average 4 bed house in GM is £1,100 per month, an annual rise of 6.2.

The two areas where GM continues to perform well are hotel occupancy and airport passenger numbers, both of which help to support the view that even in these difficult times, GM’s international standing and external profile remains strong. Passenger numbers at Manchester Airport reached 2.1 million in July 2011, 5.6% (+112,000) higher than in July 2010. And whilst hotel occupancy fell back from the record levels achieved in June and July, year-on-year change remains positive.

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