Suffolk: Business leaders welcome fall in jobless numbers

Unemployment falls across the region and the UK

Unemployment falls across the region and the UK - Credit: PA

SUFFOLK’S business leaders have welcomed a drop in jobless numbers in the county, saying it was a sign of “continued optimism”.

John Dugmore

John Dugmore

Jobless numbers are falling across the East of England and the UK, new figures reveal.

But despite a decrease in the number of people seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance, long-term unemployment remains stubbornly unaffected. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released yesterday, showing a 17-year high in spite of the overall falls in jobless numbers.

Across the East of England, there were 12,000 fewer unemployed compared to the previous quarter. The figure for the region now stands at 205,000, and its unemployment rate is 6.6%. The south west had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.8% and the north east had the highest at 10.4%.

Monthly data on claimant numbers for June, which is not seasonally adjusted, show there were around 103,000 in the East of England, a fall of nearly 10,000 or 8.6% on the previous year. In Suffolk, the figure was 11,577 - a fall of 2,096 or 15.3% - and in Essex it stood at 24,044 - down 1,764 or 6.8% on the previous year.

All of the districts in both counties saw year-on-year falls, except for Basildon, where there was a very slight rise.

Suffolk Chamber chief executive John Dugmore said: “The latest figures do bring continued optimism and its good that we seem to be seeing consistency on a month to month basis of more people in work.

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“Firms across Suffolk are working harder than ever and 12,000 fewer people in unemployment in our region is welcome news.”

Across the country, total unemployment fell by 57,000 in the quarter to May to 2.51 million, the lowest since last autumn, while the claimant count was cut by 21,200 in June to 1.48 million, the best figure for more than two years.

Vacancies were up by 24,000 to 529,000, the highest since the autumn of 2008.

But long-term unemployment has reached its highest level since 1996, with 915,000 people out of work for more than a year, an increase of 32,000.

Just over 460,000 people have been jobless for more than two years, the highest figure since 1997.

The number of people classed as economically inactive also increased in the latest quarter, up by 87,000 to 9.04 million.

The figure included a 44,000 increase in economically inactive students, a 26,000 rise among the long-term sick and 8,000 more people who retired early.

The Office for National Statistics also reported that 29.7 million people were in employment in the three months to May, up 16,000 on the previous quarter, and an increase of 336,000 on a year ago.

Unemployment is 72,000 lower than a year ago, with a jobless rate of 7.8%.

Youth unemployment fell by 20,000 to 959,000, giving a jobless rate for 16 to 24-year-olds of 20.9%.

Average earnings increased by 1.7% in the year to May, up by 0.2% on the previous month, giving an average weekly wage of £476.

Full-time employment increased by 28,000 to 21.6 million, but the number of part-time workers fell by 12,000 to 8.04 million.

Self-employment fell by 28,000 to 4.1 million.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “Our welfare reform agenda is about making a fair and affordable system that incentivises work: giving people the support they need to get off benefits and into a job.

“Today’s figures are encouraging, with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance down and the number of people in work increasing.

“The fall in the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits, together with the news that there are currently over half a million vacancies available in the UK economy, show that there are opportunities out there for those who are prepared to work hard, and who aspire to get on in life.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer welcomed a 16% year-on-year fall in claimants in the town, and said long term unemployment was “edging down”, although he admitted there was still much more to do. Youth unemployment was now 11% lower than in May 2010 but long term unemployment was higher, he said. “Since February 2012 the news has got better and better, with joblessness coming down almost every month,” he said. “Given the high level of public sector employment in the town, which has been so affected by government cuts, this really is impressive. Most impressive has been the fall in youth unemployment.”

“Government needs to view these figures as a catalyst for further investment such as infrastructure projects.” he continued. “If that is made and implemented sooner rather than later then we’ll continue to see more and more people in work.”