Suffolk/Essex: Unemployment counts head downwards in most parts of region

UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen in the UK for the first time in almost a year, although 2.65million people remain out of work, official figures revealed today.

Total unemployment dipped by 35,000 in the quarter to February, representing a jobless rate – those out of work as a percentage of the total labour market – of 8.3%.

The narrower count of people entitled to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance increased nationally for the 17th month in a row in March, rising by 3,600 to 1.61million, but this was the smallest monthly rise since last December and most parts of Suffolk and north Essex recorded a fall.

In Suffolk, the biggest falls were in Waveney, where the count was 111 lower last month compared with February at 3,248 and the rate down by 0.2 of a percentage point at 4.6%, and Ipswich, where the count fell by 56 to 4,495 and the rate by 0.1% to 5.3%.

Smaller falls left the rates unchanged in Babergh, where the count fell by 12 to 1,365 (representing a rate of 2.7%), and Forest Heath, also down 12 to 1,019 (a rate of 2.5%).

However, small increases, which also left rates unchanged, were recorded in Mid Suffolk, up 39 to 1,308 (a rate of 2.2%), St Edmundsbury, up nine to 1,774 (2.7%), and Suffolk Coastal, up six to 1,609 (2.2%).

Unemployment rates fell by 0.1% across most parts of north and mid Essex, including Tendring, down 106 to 3,782 (4.5%), Chelmsford, down 78 to 3,101 (2.8%), Colchester, down 58 to 3,589 (2.9%), Braintree, down 38 to 2,685 (2.9%), and Uttlesford, down 28 to 832 (1.7%).

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However, the count edged higher in Maldon, rising by 12 compared with February to 981, although this left the rate unchanged at 2.5%.

Despite the national decline in total unemployment, today’s figures show that the number of people out of work for over a year jumped by 26,000 to 883,000 in the quarter to February, the worst total since 1996.

The figures also showed an 89,000 increase in the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs, with the total of 1.4 million being the highest figure since records began in 1992.

This contributed to a 53,000 increase compared with the previous quarter in the number of people in employment, but the total of 29 million is still 57,000 down on a year ago.