Suffolk/Essex: Unemployment follows national downward trend

Claimant count unemployment fell for the seventh month running during May

Claimant count unemployment fell for the seventh month running during May - Credit: PA

Unemployment fell by 5,000 to 2.55million in the three months to April, official figures revealed today, while the number of people in work rose by 24,000 to a record 29.7m.

The number of people aged over 65 in a job topped the 1m mark for the first time since records began in 1971, with nearly one in 10 people in the age group – 615,000 men and 388,000 women – now in work.

The fall in total unemployment was due to more men finding work, with the number of women out of a job rising by 7,000 during the quarter to 1.09m.

Long-term unemployment, those who have been out of work for longer than a year, also rose, by 11,000 to nearly 900,000, although youth unemployment, covering those aged between 16 and 24, fell by 43,000 to 950,000.

The narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit fell by 8,600 on a seasonally-adjusted basis in May to 1.5m, representing a seventh consecutive monthly fall and the lowest figure since May 2011.

On an unadjusted basis, the claimant count fell by nearly 43,000 nationally to 1.54m and the downward trend was reflected in local figures across Suffolk and north Essex.

In Suffolk, the biggest falls were in Waveney, down 121 to 2,741 (a rate of 4.0%), and Forest Heath, down 57 to 865 (2.2%), representing a fall of 0.2 of a percentage point in each case. In contrast, a fall of 61 in Ipswich to 3,736 left the local rate unchanged at 4.3%.

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Elsewhere in the county, the rates fell by 0.1%, including Babergh, down 58 to 1,155 (2.2%), Mid Suffolk, down 66 to 1,016 (1.7%), St Edmundsbury, down 50 to 1,570 (2.2%), and Suffolk Coastal, down 74 to 1,127 (1.5%).

In Essex, the biggest fall was in Braintree where the count fell by 133 to 2,463 and the rate by 0.2% to 2.6%.

There were also 0.1% falls in Chelmsford, down 91 to 2,650 (2.4%), Colchester, down 127 to 2,981 (2.6%) and Tendring, down 84 to 3,186 (4.1%), while the rates remained unchanged in Maldon, down nine to 864 (2.3%), and Uttlesford, down 26 to 640 (1.3%).

Employment minister Mark Hoban said: “Our priority is getting people back into work and today’s figures show we have more people in work than ever before, more women in work than ever before, and more hours worked in the economy than ever before.

“With the number of people in work increasing, and unemployment down, these are welcome figures. The fact that youth unemployment is also down is a positive sign.

“But we are not complacent; through schemes like the Work Programme and the Youth Contract we will continue to help people find the jobs they need so they can realise their aspiration of looking after themselves and their families and help the country compete in the global race.”

However, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “The tiniest glimmer of light is to be welcomed but today’s figures confirm the awful truth that there’s been practically zero progress tackling unemployment since last summer.

“Long-term unemployment is becoming more deep-set and employers are reporting skills shortages and more part-time workers are saying they’re desperate for a full-time job.

“The bottom line is unemployment is now higher than it was at the last election, and today unemployment rose again in two-thirds of England.

“Long-term unemployment is now a massive 100,000 higher than back in 2010, the number of women out of work has risen yet again, and last month saw a fall in the number of people coming off benefits.”