East Anglia: Sharp fall in unemployment benefit claims as number of people in work hits record high

A record number of people are in work, but more than ever only have part-time jobs because they cann

A record number of people are in work, but more than ever only have part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time roles, according to new figures. - Credit: PA

The number of jobless people claiming benefit in Suffolk and north Essex fell sharply last month while the number of people in work across the UK as a whole has hit an all-time high.

But of the near-30million people in work, a record 1.46m were working part-time because they could not find a full-time role, the figures from the Office for Natinal Statistics (ONS) reveal, an increase of 24,000 over the previous three months.

The total number of people in work is the highest since records began in 1971 and reflects an increase of 177,000 in the three months to September compared with the previous quarter.

At the same time, total unemployment fell by 48,000 to 2.47million, the lowest since the spring of 2011, while the narrower count of people eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance fell for the 12th month in a row in October, by 41,700 on a seasonally-adjusted basis to 1.31m, the lowest for almost five years.

On an unadjusted basis, not taking into account normal seasonal variations, the fall in the claimant count was even bigger, down by nearly 56,000 to just under 1.325m, and Suffolk and north Essex followed the trend, with reducations across all local authority areas,

The biggest falls in Suffolk, cutting the local unemployment rate by 0.2 of a percentage point in each case, were in Ipswich, where the count was 174 lower at 3,189 (a rate of 3.6%), and Mid Suffolk, down 70 to 788 (1.3%).

There were 0.1% falls in Babergh, down 44 to 928 (1.8%), Forest Heath, down 34 to 621 (1.6%), St Edmundsbury, down 73 to 1,229 (1.8%) and Waveney, down 99 to 2,181 (3.3%), while in Suffolk Coastal a fall of 50 to 921 left the rate unchanged at 1.3%.

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In north and mid Essex, Chelmsford saw a fall of 0.2%, with the count down by 155 at 2,208 (representing a rate of 2.0%).

Falls of 0.1% were recorded in Braintree, down 130 to 1,949 (2.1%), Colchester, down 179 to 2,483 (2.2%), Maldon, down 32 to 721 (1.9%), and Tendring, down 127 to 2,738 (3.6%), while in Uttlesford a fall of 26 to 550 left the rate unchanged at 1.1%.

The county-wide unemployment rates of 2.2% in Suffolk and 2.4% in Essex, based on Jobseekers’ Allowance claims, compare with a national average of 3.1%.

In terms of total unemployment, the UK’s jobless rate of 7.6% compares with a European Union average of 11%, ranging from 27.6% in Greece and 26.6% in Spain to 5.2% in Germany and 4.9% in Austria.