Three Cheers For The Little Guy

I have talked to a great many people over recent months about their experiences in the job market. Unsurprisingly during a recession many people felt pessimistic about their chances of getting the job they really wanted, but I did speak to a fair number of people who were more upbeat. So on the basis of that, and a hunch about the beginnings of a recovery in Shropshire prompted by a recent flurry of new openings in the town centre, I decided to do a little digging of my own.

Now most people who watch the evening news are probably familiar with the official government employment statistics, indeed it’s hard to avoid the monthly dose of doom and gloom on TV, radio and over the internet. But what is less known is that these statistics are broken down to local level. The House of Commons Library actually produces a monthly report detailing all the information by parliamentary constituency. I discovered this quite by chance whilst listening to local MP Daniel Kawczynski brief a group of local councillors on Westminster news that directly impacts on Shrewsbury & Atcham. He began quoting these extraordinary figures on a local level I had never heard before, and believe me when I say they were quite extraordinary.

After a chat and a few phone calls I discovered where these reports could be found and soon, closet statistician that I’ve always fancied myself to be, I was poring over the latest monthly report. In a grimly clinical way, the way that only cold hard numbers can be, I found it quite absorbing reading. Now you may think that makes me a rather sad person who should get out more, and maybe it does, but I was a hooked as if I’d been reading the latest bestseller.

Before I reveal to you what I discovered, let me just remind you what the national figures say. According to the latest government figures the UK unemployment rate stands at 8.1%, lower than the Eurozone average, but still a worryingly large number if you’re one of the people looking for work. In Shrewsbury & Atcham that figure is 3.7%, yes that’s right less than half the national average. So what is the secret to our town’s relative success? Is it national chain stores, out of town retail parks, or the public sector? Well most towns across the country have all of those things, and many places have a great deal more than we do. No the secret doesn’t lie in with massive conglomerates, it actually rests here with us. Shrewsbury has always had a reputation for being fertile ground for small independent retailers and manufacturers, there are over 200 trading just within the Loop of the Severn.

These are the very businesses that are supporting Shrewsbury through this global economic crisis, and these are the kind of businesses which will pull the whole country out the other end of this recession. If you are out of work, don’t despair, try small independent employers, or even consider setting up a business yourself, help in the form of government backed loans and professional advice is out there. Shropshire Council runs monthly Business Support Clinics where you can get advice from professionals on business start-ups.

So next time you walk past an independent shop or café, go in and see them, they’ll be glad to see you!

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Dean Carroll Dean Carroll

Dean is a councillor on Shrewsbury Town Council, and is involved in many different aspects of town life. His interests range from politics and history to music and football, and he aims to put a local perspective on many of the big stories that have caught his eye recently.

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