THE number of people in Herefordshire seeking job seekers allowance (JSA) is at its lowest for six years.

Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that 1,468 people were on JSA last month – the lowest it has been since June 2008. This compares to 2,525 this time last year.

According to the labour market statistics, 89,000 people are "economically active" in the county out of a population of 184,900.

There are 14,500 people in professional occupations, with 10,300 being in a manager, director or senior official.

A further 13,000 are in skilled trade professions, while 7.400 are in administrative and secretarial positions and 6,800 in sales and customer service.

A total of 22,700 people are "economically inactive", with 5,800 looking after a family or a home, 4,800 being retired, 4,400 on long-term sick leave and 4,300 being students.

The majority of those – 16,600 – said that they do not want a job.

The average gross weekly pay of full-time workers in the county is lower than the West Midlands and the rest of the country.

A worker can expect to take home on average £415, compared to £483 in other parts of the West Midlands.

The average weekly wage in the UK is £518.10.

But, there is a noticeable difference amongst men and women.

Male full-time workers in Herefordshire can take home £493.20 on average, whereas women will only see £334.80.

Nevertheless, Mike Dzioba, business development manager for Department for Work and Pensions, said that the job market in the county is "healthy."

"In Hereford, there is been a big retail development, which has really helped," said Mr Dzioba.

"We have worked with big companies like Waitrose and Debenhams to ensure that a lot of jobs were created.

"But, the other market towns are also doing well are are benefitting with what is happening in Hereford.

"People from Leominster and Ross are travelling to to those jobs, so the county is benefitting as a whole.

"In Ross, the JSA figure is 175, which is the lowest it has been since November 2005.

"We expect the vast majority of those people signed off and going into work.

"We work with a wide variety of employees in Ross, like the Royal Hotel, who have recently undertaken a vast refurbishment, to create vacancies.

"Aldi has also started building on their new site and Tesco has applied to have supermarket in the town, so Ross is fairly buoyant."