THERE is a “significant decline” in the number of people without jobs in Worcestershire according to the head of a private and public sector partnership trying to boost the county’s economy.

Peter Pawsey, chairman of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), said: “We are certainly not resting on our laurels - we have a long way to go but it is very pleasing that the jobless figures are coming down.

“Now the task is to ensure the trend keeps going in the right direction.”

The LEP says the improvement has been noticeable over the last few years but particularly so when comparing January, 2012 with December, 2012.

For the 16-64 age group, there were a total of 11,404 unemployed in Worcestershire in January - 4.1 per cent of the population. By December that was 9,854 - 2.8 per cent.

The December equivalents for the West Midlands and UK were 157,048, 4.4 per cent and 1,523,222, 3.7 per cent respectively.

In the 18-24 age group, the Worcestershire total had come down from 3,145 - 7.6 per cent - in January, 2012 to 2,690 - 6.5 per cent - in December. Last month’s equivalents for the West Midlands and UK were 43,335 - 8.3 per cent - and 405,115 - 6.8 per cent.

“What we are seeing is a steady and significant decline in the numbers of unemployed,” said Mr Pawsey.

“It means we are having some success in terms of all the various efforts being made to cut the jobless queue, get people back to being productive and boost economic growth in the county.”

Mr Pawsey added: “There will be setbacks - we anticipate numbers will rise next month, when the January claimant count figures are released, due to the decrease in seasonal work at the end of the Christmas period, so we must redouble our efforts.

“However, especially given disappointing GDP statistics and fears of a triple dip recession, Worcestershire is weathering the economic storm better than most.”