Suffolk/Essex: Jobless count follows national downward trend

UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen for the fourth month in a row, with more people – especially those over the age of 65 – finding work, official figures showed today.

The jobless total fell by 65,000 to 2.58million in the quarter to May, the lowest for nearly a year, while the number of people in employment increased by 181,000 to just under 30million, the highest for almost four years.

The narrower count of those eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance also fell at headline level, from 1.59million in May to 1.56million last month, although the underlying figure, adjusted for normal seasonal variations, grew by 6,100 to 1.6million.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, also showed an increase in long-term unemployment, with the number of people out of work for more than two years rising by 18,000 to 441,000, the worst figure since 1997.

Most age groups showed increases in employment, with a rise of 52,000 in over-65s in work to reach 929,000, the highest since records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate is now 8.1%, down by 0.2 percentage points, although the jobless total is 132,000 higher than a year ago.

The biggest falls in unemployment, and increase in work, was in London, suggesting that the Olympic Games is having an impact on the figures. However, claimant counts across Suffolk and north Essex followed the national downward trend.

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The biggest falls in Suffolk, in each case cutting the local unemployment rate by 0.1 of a percentage point, were in Suffolk Coastal, where the count fell by 73 to 1,386 (a rate of 1.9%), St Edmundsbury, down 68 to 1,652 (2.5%), Mid Suffolk, down 59 to 1,158 (2.4%), Forest Heath, down 56 to 902 (2.2%), and Waveney, down 37 to 3,013 (4.3%).

Smaller falls left the local unemployment rates unchanged in Ipswich, down 24 to 4,306 (5.1%), and Babergh, down 20 to 1,256 (2.5%).

In north and mid Essex, the biggest falls, also cutting the local rate by 0.1% in each case, came in Tendring, down 82 to 3,325 (3.9%), Uttlesford, down 41 to 688 (1.4%), and Maldon, down 34 to 881 (2.2%).

Smaller falls, relative to the size of the local workforce, left the rates unchanged in Colchester, down 56 to 3,234 (2.7%), Braintree, down 32 to 2,522 (2.8%), and Chelmsford, down 100 to 2,832 (2.6%).