Suffolk: Unemployment counts down in most parts of the county

UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen in the UK for the first time in almost a year, official figures revealed today, with the jobless count in Ipswich falling by more than 50 last month compared with February.

Total unemployment nationally dipped by 35,000 in the quarter to February to 2.65million, representing a jobless rate – those out of work as a percentage of the total labour market – of 8.3%.

The narrower count of people entitled to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance increased nationally for the 17th month in a row in March, rising by 3,600 to 1.61million, but this was the smallest monthly rise since last December and falls were recorded in many parts of Suffolk.

The biggest falls in the county were in Ipswich, where the count fell by 56 to 4,495 and the rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 5.3%, and Waveney, where the count was 111 lower at 3,248 and the rate down by 0.2% at 4.6%.

Smaller falls left the rates unchanged in Babergh, where the count fell by 12 to 1,365 (representing a rate of 2.7%), and Forest Heath, also down 12 to 1,019 (a rate of 2.5%).

However, small increases, which also left rates unchanged, were recorded in Mid Suffolk, up 39 to 1,308 (a rate of 2.2%), St Edmundsbury, up nine to 1,774 (2.7%), and Suffolk Coastal, up six to 1,609 (2.2%).

Ipswich MP Ben Gunner said today: “Ipswich has been hit hard by this recession – unemployment has risen faster than in other parts of the country – but these figures are the second sign we have had in as many months that we may be turning the corner.

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“I do not want to get over-excited about this: there are four and a half thousand personal tragedies contained in these figures. But I hope, through the Government’s massive Work Programme, that one by one we will begin to turn those tragedies into personal successes.

“The figures are all the more important for the fact that many people are still being moved onto Job Seeker’s Allowance from sickness benefits, so the improvement in the situation will be better than these flat figures suggest. So, all in all, nothing to cheer about but some cause for hope. We all need to do all we can to encourage businesses to grow to ensure that the trend continues.”

Despite the national decline in total unemployment, today’s figures show that the number of people out of work for over a year jumped by 26,000 to 883,000 in the quarter to February, the worst total since 1996.

The figures also showed an 89,000 increase in the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs, with the total of 1.4 million being the highest figure since records began in 1992.

This contributed to a 53,000 increase compared with the previous quarter in the number of people in employment, but the total of 29 million is still 57,000 down on a year ago.