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Unemployment on the rise across Suffolk and north Essex

PUBLISHED: 12:01 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:01 21 February 2018

The number of people in work in the UK increased by 88,000 in the three months to December, despite an increase in total unemployment over the same period. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The number of people in work in the UK increased by 88,000 in the three months to December, despite an increase in total unemployment over the same period. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Unemployment in the UK has risen over the past three months at the fastest rate for almost five years, with earnings growth continuing to lag behind the rate of inflation.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), total unemployment increased by 46,000 during the quarter to December to 1.47m.

The quarter-on-quarter rise was the biggest since early 2013, although the total remains 123,000 lower than a year ago.

In contrast, the narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit, fell on a seasonally-adjusted basis by 7,200 during January to 823,000.

However, without adjustment for seasonal variation, the national count grew by more than 28,000 to 826,545, a trend followed across Suffolk and north Essex.

The biggest increases in Suffolk, in each case resulting in the local jobless rate growing by 0.1 of a percentage point, were in Waveney, up 75 to 2,475 (a rate of 3.8%), Ipswich, up 70 to 1,780 (2.1%), St Edmundsbury, up 60 to 870 (1.3%), and Forest Heath, up 25 to 355 (0.9%).

Smaller changes left the rate unchanged in Babergh, up 10 to 450 (0.9%), Mid Suffolk, also up 10 to 460 (0.8%, and Suffolk Coastal, up 25 to 515 (0.7%).

In north and mid Essex, the rate grew by 0.1 in Tendring, up 65 to 2,190 (2.8%), Colchester, up 50 to 1,390 (1.2%), and Maldon, up 35 to 390 (1.0%), but remained unchanged in Braintree, up 60 to 1,040 (1.1%), Chelmsford, up 15 to 1,175 (also 1.1%), and Uttlesford, also up 15 to 275 (0.5%).

Despite the increase in total unemployment nationally − the first since the summer of 2016 − the number of people in work in the UK increased by 88,000 in the three months to December to 32.1m while the number of job vacancies grew by 24,000 to a record 823,000.

However, average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to December, unchanged from the previous month, compared with a current rate of inflation of 3.0%.

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “High employment rates are a reliable feature of today’s economy, and this is an incredible achievement.”

However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Nobody should have to rely on a zero-hours contract for their main job, but over 900,000 workers remain stuck in that situation.”

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