Suffolk: Ipswich worst hit has county’s unemployment totals edge higher

UNEMPLOYMENT continued to edge higher across Suffolk last month, official figures revealed today, with Ipswich seeing the biggest increase and the national total hitting a near 17-year high of almost 2.7million.

The narrower count of those eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance also increased nationally, for the 12th month in a row, to reach 1.6million in February, up 7,200 on the previous month and the worst figure since the end of 2009.

However, the increase of 28,000 in total unemployment in the quarter to January was the lowest for almost a year and the number of people in work increased by 9,000 during the same period.

The Office for National Statistics said this included an increase of 45,000 in the number of people employed in the private sector, taking to the total of 23million, which more than offset a fall of 37,000 in public sector employment, to just under six million, as the Government’s cuts in public spending continued to bite.

However, the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 110,000 to 1.3million, the highest since records began in 1992. Total part-time employment was 60,000 higher at 6.6million.

The jobless rate nationally now stands at 8.4% in terms of total unemployment, up 0.1 of a percentage point on the previous quarter and the highest since the end of 1995, while the claimant count rate is 4.2%, up 0.1% on the previous month.

The national rise in the claimant count rate was mirrored by increases of 0.1% in all parts of Suffolk. The biggest increases were recorded in Ipswich, up 120 to 4,551 (a rate of 5.4%), St Edmundsbury, up 85 to 1,765 (2.7%) and Suffolk Coastal, up 75 to 1,603 (2.2%).

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However, there were also increases in Babergh, up 68 to 1,377 (2.7%), Mid Suffolk, up 62 to 1,269 (2.2%), Forest Heath, up 60 to 1,031 (2.5%), and Waveney, up 42 to 3,359 (4.8%).

The Department for Work and Pensions said that unemployment in the UK remained below the European Union average while employment remains above the EU average. While unemployment is 8.4% in the UK, it is 10% in France, 23.3% in Spain and 10.1% across the EU as a whole.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “This is a more encouraging set of figures, with signs that the labour market is stabilising, but there is clearly still a big challenge ahead to bring down unemployment and get people back to work.

“The international economic outlook remains difficult but we will do everything we can to help the unemployed find jobs.”

However, Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said: “These are the worst unemployment figures for Ipswich since February 1996.

“They highlight the Government’s continuing mishandling of the economy and show that we were absolutely right to put forward our council Budget for Jobs and Growth.

“Our �1.5million Jobs and Skill Fund and building the first new council houses for 20 years will boost the local economy and bring new investment to Ipswich.”

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