Surprise rise in town’s jobless total

ipswich: The number of people in the town claiming unemployment benefit rose last month, in line with a surprise national trend, official figures revealed yesterday.

The national total of people claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance grew by 12,400 compared with March to 1.47million, the Office for National Statistics said, confounding the expectations of economists that the figure would fall by between 4,000 and 10,000.

And in Ipswich the so-called claimant count increased by 61 compared with March to a total of 3,967, raising the local unemployment rate (benefit claimants as proportion of the total workforce) by 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.8%.

Small reductions in the count, not enough to change the local rate, were recorded in neighbouring districts, including Babergh, where the count fell by 20 to 1,119 (a rate of 2.2%), Mid Suffolk, down 14 to 1,089 (1.9%), and Suffolk Coastal, down 43 to 1,388 (1.9%).

Nationally, the wider measure of total unemployment, which includes those out of work but not eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance, did fall by 36,000 in the quarter to March to 2.455million, and the number of people in employment increased, showing a 118,000 rise on the quarter to 29.24million.

But total unemployment is expected to head upwards over the coming months as Government spending cuts increasingly kick-in.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said yesterday: “These are welcome figures showing another rise in full-time employment in the private sector.”

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But Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne responded: “We welcome any glimmer of good news but today’s figures are a sign we are not out of the woods by a long stretch.

“The claimant count is up, vacancies are down and this is before the wave of public sector redundancies and school leavers come on to the books.”

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