Rise in unemployment eases

UNEMPLOYMENT last month grew at the lowest rate since spring last year, official figures revealed yesterday But that failed to prevent youth unemployment reaching a record high of almost 20% - a figure branded as “grim” and a “national disgrace” by opposition parties, which accused Labour of writing off a generation of young people.

UNEMPLOYMENT last month grew at the lowest rate since spring last year, official figures revealed yesterday

But that failed to prevent youth unemployment reaching a record high of almost 20% - a figure branded as “grim” and a “national disgrace” by opposition parties, which accused Labour of writing off a generation of young people.

However, Ministers hit back by confirming plans to create 35,000 jobs for young people and arguing that the slower than expected rise in the jobless total showed the Government's action on the economy was making a “real difference”.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a 30,000 increase in the number of people out of work between July and September to just under 2.5 million.


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The narrower count of those eligible for the Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 12,900 in October to 1.64 million, the 20th consecutive monthly increase, giving the worst total for 12 years, and the number of 16 to 24-year-olds grew by 15,000 to 943,000, giving a record rate of 19.8%.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May said: “These are yet more grim figures for Britain. Labour has written off a generation of young people with one in five now unable to find a job.”

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Steve Webb, work and pensions spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, added: “It is a national disgrace that one in five people aged between 16 and 24 are now unemployed.”

But Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The fact that unemployment is significantly lower than everyone forecast at the beginning of the year shows the support for the economy is making a real difference.”

And she added that an extra 35,000 youth jobs, more apprenticeships and education places were being created to “guarantee no young person gets stuck in long-term unemployment”.'

The claimant count fell in most parts of Suffolk and north Essex last month, although local figures are not adjusted for normal seasonal variations and so do not give a true guide to the trend.

St Edmundsbury saw a fall of 111, possibly related to the start of the annual campaign at the town's sugar factory and further openings at the arc shopping centre, cutting the total to 1,726 and the local unemployment rate by 0.2 of a percentage point to 2.8%.

There was also a 0.2% fall in neighbouring Forest Heath where the count fell by 37 to 954 (a rate of 2.3%) while there were 0.1% falls in Babergh, down 36 to 1,390 (2.7%), Ipswich, down 47 to 3,825 (5.0%) and Waveney, down 62 to 2,695 (4.1%).

Smaller falls left the rate unchanged in Mid Suffolk, down 10 to 1,209 (2.2%) and Suffolk Coastal, down eight to 1,462 (2.1%).

The picture was more mixed in north and mid Essex. In Colchester the count fell by 93 to 3,414 and the rate by 0.2% to 2.9% while in Chelmsford a fall of 25 to 3,030 cut the rate by 0.1% to 2.9%. Small falls left the rate unchanged in Braintree, down six to 3,022 (a rate of 3.5%), and Uttlesford, down eight to 901 (2.1%).

But in Tendring the count edged up by 12 to 3,466, although a statistical readjustment saw the local rate actually fall by 0.1% to 4.4%, and in Maldon the total grew by 61 to 1,124 and the rate by 0.2% to 3.0%.

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