POPULATION levels are continuing to fall in Burnley – and could do so for the next decade according to economists.

Last year the Lancashire Telegraph reported how the borough had one of the largest emigrant rates in the UK, with the population level dropping by two per cent from 2001 to 2006.

It is expected that the population could fall by about 7,000 from its current level of 88,200 by the Burnley Snapshot 2008.

The snapshot survey has been drawn up by the borough council’s regeneration and economic development unit and is the first of it kind for three years.

Council leader Gordon Birtwistle said there is a problem with the number of young people leaving the borough.

He said: “We need them to stay because they are our future.”

Other findings show that crime levels are falling, as are the percentage of unfit homes in Burnley and Padiham, although household wages are lower than the national average.

For instance the number of new businesses registered between 2002 and 2006 was significantly higher in Burnley (13.94 per cent) than the North West (9.07 per cent).

Unemployment varies significantly from 9.4 per cent in Daneshouse and Stoneyholme to 0.7 per cent in Cliviger.

The average weekly wage in Burnley is £308.50 – nearly 20 per cent lower than the national average and three-quarters of Burnley’s wards have a household income below the Lancashire average.

Burnley is the 21st most deprived area in the country, with life expectancy lower than the rest of the country.

All crime, except burglary, has fallen in the borough over the past three years, although many rates remain higher in Burnley than the rest of Lancashire and the UK.