Suffolk and Essex: Unemployment totals down in May

OFFICIAL figures today revealed the biggest quarterly fall in UK unemployment since the turn of the century.

The total number of people out of work in the three months to April fell by 88,000 compared with the previous quarter to 2.43million, the steepest decline since the summer of 2000.

And there was more good news with the number of people in employment increasing by 80,000 to 29.2million, with a fall of 24,000 in public sector employment to 6.1million, reflecting Government spending cuts, being offset by private sector employment growing by 104,000 to 23million.

The narrower count of people claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance jumped by 19,600 last month to 1.49million, the worst figure for more than a year, although the comparison is currently being skewed by changes to lone parent income support which has resulted in more women claiming the allowance.

The reduction in total unemployment was mainly among 16- to 24-year-olds, with the figure for this group falling by 79,000 to 895,000, the lowest figure for two years.

The East of England was among only three of the 12 UK regions to buck the fall in total unemployment, with the figure rising by 8,000 compared with the previous three months to 191,000. In Suffolk and north Essex, however, claimant counts also bucked the national trend, with all districts recording a fall last month.

In Suffolk, the biggest falls were in Lowestoft, were the count fell by 150 to 2,846 and the local unemployment rate by 0.3 of a percentage point to 4.0%, and Forest Heath, where the total fell by 66 to 834, cutting the rate by 0.2% to 2.1%.

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Local rates elsewhere in the county all fell by 0.1%, including Babergh, down 22 to 1,097 (2.1%), Ipswich, down 20 to 3,947 (4.7%), Mid Suffolk, down 39 to 1,050 (1.8%), St Edundsbury, down 72 to 1,488 (2.3%) and Suffolk Coastal, down 52 to 1,336 (1.8%).

In north and mid Essex, the biggest falls were in Colchester, down 51 to 3,124 (2.6%), and Maldon, down 39 to 835 (2.1%), representing a 0.1% fall in the rate in each case.

Smaller decreases elsewhere left the rate unchanged in Braintree, down 44 to 2,537 (2.8%), Chelmsford, down 17 to 2,768 (2.5%), Tendring, down 50 to 3,424 (4.1%), and Uttlesford, down 10 to 766 (1.6%).

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “This is another encouraging set of figures and a very welcome drop in unemployment. It’s also good news that employment is going in the right direction with half a million more people in private sector jobs compared to this time last year.”

But Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, added: “The small fall in the jobless total will be no comfort to the hundreds of thousands of public sector workers with redundancy notices hanging over their heads.”