Employment rates have surged to near record levels in Huddersfield, with a fall of 26% in the number of people claiming job seeking benefits in the last year, new figures show.

There are now just 1,680 people in the town claiming jobseeker allowance or universal credit, a drop of 50% on the figure five years ago.

There was a similar reduction in the Colne Valley, with 1,095 claimants, down 22% on last year and 53% on 2010.

And in Kirklees as a whole there are now 5,380 claimants, a 22% drop on last year, and down 50% on 2010.

Jo Ledgard, Kirklees operations manager with Jobcentre Plus, said: “It is pleasing to see we are building our links with a wider range of organisations and working in close collaboration with lots of organisations to help people develop the skills they need to find jobs.”

She said the textile sector is beginning to flourish, with a lot of manufacturing returning to the UK, as companies find the quality of UK work is better.

There is an ageing workforce in the sector, and Jobcentre Plus is working with other organisations to promote work to a younger generation, which is seeing productive results.

The Kirklees figures echo the picture across Yorkshire which has seen the number of people in work reach a near record high. Nationally, the UK employment rate has reached a new record high of 73.9%, driven by an increase in full-time workers which has seen unemployment falling to a seven-year low.

There are more than half a million more people in work compared to this time last year, bringing the total number in employment to 31.3 million.

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Wages are also continuing to grow strongly, up 2.4% over the same period.

DWP Employment Minister, Priti Patel, said: “We are ending the year on a high, with a record rate of employment, and wages continuing to grow.

“The figures show half-a-million more people in work compared to this time last year across the UK, which means hundreds of thousands of families are going into the festive season with the security and hope for the future that work brings.”