Post-recession unemployment doubles

UNEMPLOYMENT in Suffolk and north Essex has more than doubled since the start of the recession, grim new figures revealed today.

UNEMPLOYMENT in Suffolk and north Essex has more than doubled since the start of the recession, grim new figures revealed today.

The number of people out of work and eligible for benefit in the area has risen from 14,376 in April last year - the start of the second quarter of 2008 when the UK economy first slipped into negative growth - to 29,202 in the latest figures covering last month.

The month-on-month increase between July and August was smaller than those seen during the worst of the recession earlier this year, although the figures benefited from temporary seasonal summer employment.

Nationally, the claimant count for August rose by 24,400 compared with July to 1.61million, the highest figure since May 1997 - the month in which Labour came to power - and the 18th consecutive monthly rise.

Worst affected in Suffolk last month was St Edmundsbury where the claimant count grew by 135 to 1,964 and the unemployment rate, as a proportion of the working population, rose by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.2 per cent.

There were smaller increases in most other parts of Suffolk, including Ipswich, up 89 to 3,858 (a rate of 5.1pc), Babergh, up 17 to 1,424 (2.9pc), Mid Suffolk, up 35 to 1,227 (2.2pc) and Suffolk Coastal, up 20 to 1,492, leaving the rate unchanged at 2.1pc.

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In the 17 months since the start of the recession, Ipswich and Waveney have been the most recession-resistant districts in Suffolk with increases in unemployment of 71pc and 50pc respectively.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Although the increase in unemployment was marginally smaller than feared, the figures are consistent with our assessment that the jobless total will rise to over three million next year.

“Employment continues to fall, and without an increase in the number of people deemed economically inactive, the increase in unemployment would have been much larger. There is a clear need for measures that limit job losses and help businesses keep hold of skilled staff.”

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