Jobless total soars above two million

UNEMPLOYMENT soared again in Suffolk and north Essex last month as the national total topped two million for the first time in 12 years, official figures revealed today.

UNEMPLOYMENT soared again in Suffolk and north Essex last month as the national total topped two million for the first time in 12 years, official figures revealed today.

The number of people claiming the Jobseeker's Allowance nationally increased by 138,400 in February to 1.39million, according to the Office for National Statistics, representing the largest month-on-month increase since records began in 1971 and the highest total since 1998.

Yesterday's ONS data also revealed that total unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, jumped by 165,000 in the three months to January to 2.03million, the steepest quarterly rise since 1991 and the highest total since Labour came to power in the summer of 1997.

There was also further bad news for the Government, with a total of 266,000 people being made redundant during the three months to January, the worst figure since records began in 1995, and the number of vacancies falling by 74,000 in the three months to February to 482,000, the lowest total since comparable records began in 2001.


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And in a further sign of deepening recession, average earnings increased by just 1.8% in the year to January, the lowest since records began in 1991, while during January alone wages fell by 0.2% - the first time this has ever happened.

Yesterday's figures mean that unemployment in north and mid Essex has virtually doubled in the past 12 months, having now risen by 99% since February 2008 to 14,515, while in Suffolk the latest total is 87% up on the same time last year at 14,082.

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Most of the increase has come in the past three months, with the figures for Suffolk and north and mid Essex in February up by 66% and 71% respectively compared with November.

Worst hit last month was Waveney, where the claimant count grew by 438 last month compared with January to 3,153, representing a local unemployment rate of 4.8% - an increase of 0.7 percentage points month-on-month - while there were 0.6% increases in Ipswich, where the count grew by 470 to 3,803 (a rate of 5.0%), and Babergh, up 278 to 1,440 (2.9%).

Increases of 0.5% were recorded in St Edmundsbury, up 311 to 1,928 (3.1%), Tendring, up 394 to 3,607 (4.6%), Braintree, up 462 to 2,845 (3.3%), Uttlesford, up 189 to 816 (1.9%), and Maldon, up 188 to 1,051 (2.8%).

And other local areas all saw the unemployment rate rise by 0.4%, including Suffolk Coastal, up 236 to 1,528 (2.2%), Mid Suffolk, up 209 to 1,290 (2.3%), Forest Heath, up 132 to 940 (2.4%), Colchester, up 533 to 3,469 (3.0%), and Chelmsford, up 437 to 2,727 (2.6%).

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