Unemployment in region doubles

UNEMPLOYMENT in Suffolk and north Essex has now doubled since the start of the recession, according to grim new figures announced today.

Duncan Brodie

UNEMPLOYMENT in Suffolk and north Essex has now doubled since the start of the recession, according to grim new figures announced 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, an increase of 103%.

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.

The broader measure of unemployment including those not eligible for benefit, for which no figures are published a local level, grew by 210,000 to 2.47 million in the three months to July.

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

There were smaller increases in most other parts of Suffolk, including Ipswich, up 89 to 3,858 (a rate of 5.1%), Babergh, up 17 to 1,424 (2.9%), Mid Suffolk, up 35 to 1,227 (2.2%) - increases of 0.1% in the rate in each case - and Suffolk Coastal, up 20 to 1,492, leaving the rate unchanged at 2.1%.

However, seasonal employment saw small falls in unemployment recorded in Waveney, where the count fell by 43 to 2,781 and the rate by 0.1% to 4.2%, and Forest Heath, where the count fell by three to 1,004, leaving the rate unchanged at 2.5%.

The picture was similar in north and mid Essex, where local unemployment rates increased by 0.1%, in Colchester, up 116 to 3,635 (3.2%), Braintree, up 74 to 3,089 (3.6%), Maldon, up 16 to 1,113 (3.0%) and Chelmsford, up 133 to 3,136 (3.0%).

However, Tendring also benefitted marginally from the seasonal effect, with the total falling by three to 3,514 and the rate remaining unchanged at 4.5%, while in Uttlesford an increase of 15 also left the rate on hold, at 2.2%.

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 71% and 50% respectively.

The five other districts in the county have all seen unemployment more than double, with increases of 148% in Babergh, 136% in Forest Heath, 117% in Suffolk Coastal, 112% in Mid Suffolk and 108% in St Edmundsbury.

In Essex, Tendring has been the most resistant district with an increase of 77%, compared with increases of 103% in Colchester, 141% in Maldon, 147% in Braintree, 155% in Chelmsford and 194% in Uttlesford, representing a near-trebling of the total since the start of the recession.

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