East Anglia: Fall in unemployment total offers sign of hope

UNEMPLOYMENT dipped back below 2.5million in the three months to February, official figures revealed yesterday – but the number of young people not in work, training or education edged closer to the 1million mark.

The total number of people out of work fell by 17,000 to 2.48million while the number in work grew by 143,000 to 29.23million

However, the number of jobless 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 12,000 to 963,000.

The total for 16 and 17-year-olds climbed by 14,000 to 218,000, the highest since records began in 1992, although the figure for 18 to 24-year-olds fell by 2,000 to 745,000, the office for National Statistics said.

The narrower count of people eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance also edged higher last month to 1.45million, although this reflected changes in benefit rules which have seen many women switched from claiming Income Support in recent months.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling described the figures as “another step in the right direction”, but Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said the picture remained “bleak” for young people.

Most parts of Suffolk and north Essex bucked the national upward trend in the claimant count, although increases were recorded two districts.

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Ipswich saw the bigger increase, with the count rising by 56 to 3,905 and the local unemployment rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.7%, while in Suffolk Coastal an increase of 21, taking the count to 1,431, left the rate unchanged at 1.9%.

The biggest falls in Suffolk, cutting the local rate by 0.1% in each case, were in Babergh, where the total fell by 40 to 1,139 (representing a rate of 2.2%), and Waveney, down 95 to 3,165 (4.5%).

Smaller falls, leaving the local rate unchanged, were recorded in St Edmundsbury, down 25 to 1,538 (2.4%), Mid Suffolk, down 19 to 1,103 (1.9%), and Forest Heath, down six to 900 (2.3%).

In north and mid Essex, the biggest fall was in Tendring where the count fell by 152 to 3,632 and the rate by 0.2% to 4.3%.

Local rates remained unchanged in Braintree, down 20 to 2,668 (2.9%), Chelmsford, down 64 to 2,826 (2.6%), Colchester, down seven to 3,188 (2.7%), Maldon, down four to 916 (2.3%), and Uttlesford, down 10 to 817 (1.7%).

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