Youth jobless total hits all-time high

UNEMPLOYMENT totals across Suffolk and north Essex soared last month as temporary Christmas jobs came to an end, official figures revealed yesterday.

Nationally, total unemployment jumped by 44,000 in the final three months of 2010 to just under 2.5million, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment among young people, aged 16 to 24, grew by 66,000 to 965,000 and the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs increased by 44,000 to 1.19m, the highest figure in each case since records began in 1992.

The narrower count of those eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance increased by 2,400 in January to 1.46million.

Claimant count figures also rose across Suffolk and north Essex, with many districts seeing increases well into double figures, although, unlike the national data, local figures are not seasonally adjusted to take into account normal ups and downs during the year, such as the usual rise following Christmas.

In Suffolk, the biggest increase was in Waveney were the count grew by 368 compared with December to 3,232 and the local unemployment rate (those claiming benefit as a percentage of the total workforce) by 0.5 of a percentage point to 4.6%.

Close behind was Ipswich, where the count rose by 242 to 3,728 and the unemployment rate by 0.3% to 4.5%.

Most Read

Three other districts saw increases in the rate of 0.2%, Babergh, where the count rose by 116 to 1,146 (a rate of 2.2%), Forest Heath, up 78 to 907 (2.3%) and St Edmundsbury, up 88 to 1,531 (2.4%).

The remaining districts each saw increases of 0.1%, Mid Suffolk, up 52 to 1,090 (1.9%) and Suffolk Coastal, up 86 to 1,409 (also 1.9%).

North and mid Essex fared slightly better, with the biggest increases being 0.2% rises in Braintree, up 154 to 2,719 (3.0%), and Tendring, up 182 to 3,752 (4.4%). Increases of 0.1% were recorded in Chelmsford, up 141 to 2,733 (2.5%), Colchester, up 130 to 3,238 (2.7%), and Maldon, up 33 to 921 (2.3%), while in Uttlesford the rate remained unchanged at 1.7% following an increase in the count of 35, to 820.

On a regional basis, however, the East of England was one of only five parts of the UK to record a fall in total unemployment in the quarter to December, with the figure easing by 1,000 to 198,000 during the period.

Ministers claimed the national figures showed that the labour market was “stabilising” , pointing to a sharp jump in the number of vacancies to 500,000 across the country, the highest in two years.

And the Government said it reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the youth unemployment problem it inherited, including helping the 600,000 young people who had never held down a job since leaving school or college.

Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling said: “It’s been a difficult few months in the labour market but things do now seem to be stabilising. The rise in the number of vacancies is particularly encouraging.”

However, at Prime Minister’s Quenstions in the Commons, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the coalition’s Work Programme would provide 250,000 fewer opportunities than the schemes operated by the former Labour government, and he accused ministers of “betraying a whole generation of young people”.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the figures on part-time work and youth unemployment were “particularly worrying”.