Mixed news on unemployment

SUFFOLK: The numbers of people claiming unemployment benefit in the county fell last month, official figures have revealed – but the total jobless count nationally has hit a 16-year high of 2.5 million.

The Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count fell nationally by 32,900 last month to 1.54million, representing the fourth fall in the last five months.

But total unemployment, including those not eligible for the allowance, grew by 43,000 in the three months to February to its highest level since 1994, according to data from the Office for National Statistics

And the number of people classed as “economically inactive”, which includes students, carers and those who have simply given up looking for work, soared by 110,000 to 8.16million, the most recorded since records began in 1971.

With the number of people in work slumping by 89,000 to 28.8million, the lowest since the end of 2005, the UK’s employment rate is now 72%, the lowest since 1996.

However, claims for the Jobseeker’s Allowance in Suffolk followed the downward trend last month with Ipswich seeing a fall of 115, reducing the total to 3,795 and cutting the local unemployment rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 5.0%.

The biggest falls were seen in Waveney, where the total fell by 180 to at 2,905, and the rate by 0.3% to 4.4%, and in Babergh, where the count fell by 72 to 1,250 and the rate by 0.2% to 2.5%.

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Smaller falls, in each case representing a 0.1% cut in the local rate, were also recorded in Forest Heath, down 60 to 1,019, (a rate of 2.5%), Mid Suffolk, down 57 to 1,151 (2.1%), St Edmudnsbury, down 89 to 1,647 (2.7%) and Suffolk Coastal, down 71 to 1,519 (2.1%).