Fall in jobless count beats expectations

UNEMPLOYMENT fell across most parts of Suffolk and north Essex last month, according to official data published today.

The reduction in the number of people claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance was in line with the national trend, although the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicated a shortage of full-time roles.

Total unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, fell by 9,000 to 2.45 million while the narrower count of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants fell by 3,700 to 1.47 million.

However, the number of people working part-time or in self-employment grew by 67,000 during the last quarter to 1.15million, which is the highest total since records began in 1992 and is thought to reflect difficulty in finding full-time work. The number of full-time workers fell by 62,000 to 18.17 million.

Public sector employment, which is set to be hit by the Government’s spending cuts, was down by 22,000 to 6.05million, while employment in private firms increased by 308,000 to 23.11million.

Unemployment in most parts of Suffolk and north Essex followed the downward trend last month.

The biggest falls in Suffolk, in each case cutting the local unemployment rate by 0.2 of a percentage point, came in the west of the county, with the claimant count falling by 104 in St Edmundsbury to 1,361 (representing a rate of 2.1%) and by 53 in Forest Heath to 849 (also a rate of 2.1%).

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Falls of 0.1% were recorded in Babergh, down 65 to 1,023 (2.0%), and Mid Suffolk, down 24 to 1,114 (1.9%), while the rate remained unchanged in Ipswich, down 79 to 3,539 (4.3%), and Suffolk Coastal, down 30 to 1,306 (1.8%).

In Waveney, however, the count grew by 66 to 2,844 and the rate by 0.1% to 4.0%, reflecting the end of the main tourism season.

In Essex, the same factor contributed to the total rising in Tendring by 29 to 3,398 although the local unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.0%. Chelmsford also suffered an increase, with the count climbing by 55 to 2,629 and the rate by 0.2% to 2.4%.

In contrast, falls of 0.1% were recorded in Colchester, down 74 to 3,019 (2.5%) and Braintree, down 44 to 2,477 (2.7%). A small reduction in Maldon, down 17 to 867, left the rate unchanged at 2.2% while in Uttlesford, the count remained unchanged at 779 (1.6%).