Unemployment figures drop in region

THE increase in unemployment eased slightly last month, according to official figures released today.

Duncan Brodie

THE increase in unemployment eased slightly last month, according to official figures released today.

The number of people claiming the Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 20,800 in September from a revised August figure to 1.63 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - the lowest increase since May last year.

And the broader measure of total unemployment, which includes those not eligible for benefit, remained virtually static at 2.47 million in the three months to August, with a rise of 88,000.

At local level - where the figures are not adjusted to take into account normal seasonal variations - most of the claimant count totals in Suffolk and north Essex showed a decline in unemployment compared with August, due to the continuing effect of temporary summer jobs.

St Edmundsbury saw the biggest fall in Suffolk, with the count down by 127 at 1,837 and the local unemployment rate by 0.2 of a percentage point at 3.0%, while in Babergh the count fell by 34 to 1,390 and the rate by 0.1% to 2.8%.

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Smaller falls left the local rates unchanged in Suffolk Coastal, down 22 to 1,470 (a rate of 2.1%), Mid Suffolk, down eight to 1,219 (2.2%), Waveney, down 24 to 2,757 (4.2%) and Forest Heath, down 13 to 991 (2.5%).

Ipswich, however, bucked the local trend with the claimant count edging upwards by 14 to 3,872, although this also left the local unemployment unchanged at 5.1%.

In north and mid Essex, there were 0.1% falls in the unemployment rate in Colchester, where the count fell by 128 to 3,507 (a rate of 3.1%), Braintree, down 61 to 3,028 (3.5%), and Uttlesford, down 76 to 909 (2.1%) while in Maldon a fall of 50 to 1,063 represented a 0.2% decline in the local rate to 2.8%.

Relatively smaller falls left the local rate unchanged in Tendring, down 60 to 3,454 (4.5%), and Chelmsford, down 81 to 3,055 (3.0%).

However, despite the downward dip compared with August, the new figures still mean that unemployment in Suffolk is up by 5,349 compared with the same time last year while the total for Essex as a whole is 13,698 higher.

And although it is thought that the UK economy could be on the brink of emerging from technical recession, with data due later this month possibly showing marginal growth in the economy during the third quarter of the year, unemployment is expected to continue to climb for many months to come.