Benefit claims in Suffolk and Essex fall as UK jobless total hits eight-year low

Unemployment fell by 54,000 to 1.65m between March and May.
Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Unemployment fell by 54,000 to 1.65m between March and May. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Unemployment benefit claims in most parts of Suffolk and north Essex fell last month as the jobless total across the UK reached an eight-year low.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday showed the national employment rate at a record high of 74.4% for the three months to May with a total of 31.7m people in work – up 176,000 compared with the previous three months.

A total of 1.65m people were unemployed during the period, a fall of 54,000 against the previous quarter and 201,000 lower compared with a year ago, giving a jobless rate of 4.9%.

The jobless total is now the lowest for eight years, while the rate is the lowest since the summer of 2005.

However, the narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance, rose by 400 on a seasonally adjustd basis last month to 759,100, the fourth consecutive monthly rise.

The unadjusted count fell by around 22,000 compared with April, but this was a smaller decline than expected for the time of year.

The fall in total unemployment represents welcome news amid fears of a slowdown following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, although ONS statistician Nick Palmer pointed out that: “None of today’s headline figures cover the period since the result of the EU referendum became known.”

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At local level, where the claimant figures are not adjusted for seasonal factors, most parts of Suffolk and north Essex followed the national downward trend.

In Suffolk, the reduction was driven almost entirely by a fall of 90 in the Waveney district, cutting the total to 818 and the local unemployment rate by 0.2 of a percentage point to 1.2%.

Smaller falls left the jobless rates unchanged in Ipswich, down seven to 1,468 (a rate of 1.7%), St Edmundsbury, down 10 to 453 (0.7%), and Babergh, down eight to 336 (0.7%).

However, single-figure increases, again leaving rates unchanged, were recorded in Suffolk Coastal, up four to 298 (0.4%), Mid Suffolk, up eight to 371 (0.6%), and Forest Heath, up five to 226 (0.6%).

In north and mid Essex, jobless rates dipped lower by 0.1 in Tendring, where the count fell by 61 to 1,522 (a rate of 2.0%), Maldon, down 12 to 239 (0.6%), and Chelmsford, down 68 to 898 (0.8%).

Relatively smaller falls left rates unchanged in Colchester, down 51 to 1,113 (1.0%), Braintree, down 36 to 819 (0.9%), and Uttlesford, down 17 to 195 (0.4%).

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