East Anglia: Mixed fortunes for region in latest unemployment data

TOTAL unemployment in the UK has fallen by 26,000 over the last three months, official figures revealed yesterday.

But the narrower count of those claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance showed the biggest monthly rise for more than two years in June.

And the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job hit a new record.

Total unemployment in the quarter to May, including those not eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance, fell by 26,000 to 2.45million, driven by a reduction among 16- to 24-year-olds.

However, the number of people claiming benefit grew by 24,500 last month to 1.52million, the biggest rise since May 2009.

The number of female claimants reached its highest level since 1996, partly as a result of changes in benefit rules although women were also most affected by a 16,000 increase in redundancies in the quarter to May to 144,000, mainly in health and social services.

The number of people in work grew by 50,000 to 29.28 million. However, this is still 293,000 lower than the pre-recession peak and the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 80,000 to 1.25 million, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

Most Read

There was also a mixed picture at local level in Suffolk and north Essex.

In Suffolk, small increases in Ipswich, where the count rose by 17 to 3,964, and Babergh, up 15 to 1,112, were enough to push the local unemployment rate up by 0.1 of a percentage point, to 4.8% and 2.2% respectively.

The count also edged higher in Mid Suffolk, by 16 to 1,066, although this left the unemployment rate unchanged at 1.8%.

In the west of the county, however, the local rate fell by 0.1% in both St Edmundsbury, down 44 to 1,444 (a rate of 2.2%), and Forest Heath, down 42 to 792 (2.0%).

There were also falls in Suffolk Coastal, down 22 to 1,314 (1.8%), and Waveney, down 23 to 2,823 (4.0%), although in each case the local rate remained unchanged.

In north Essex, Tendring led the way, with the count falling by 75 to 3,349 and the local rate by 0.1% to 4.0%, while smaller falls left the rate unchanged, in Colchester, down nine to 3,115 (2.6%), and Braintree, down 21 to 2,516 (2.8%).

However, the rate increased by 0.1% in both Chelmsford, up 47 to 2,815 (2.6%), and Uttlesford, up 24 to 790 (1.7%), while in Maldon the count grew by 11 to 845, leaving the rate unchanged at 2.1%.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “There continue to be some encouraging signs in the labour market figures, particularly with the continued rise in private sector employment.”

But Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The prospects for those without work is bleak as those made redundant in the public sector sign on.”