THE number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Hartlepool and East Durham has rocketed, latest Government figures show.
The number of claimants in Hartlepool rose from 4,715 in December to 4,841 in January, a hike of 126 claimants.
It leaves the town with 8.3 per cent of working age people claiming the benefit, which is the third highest proportion in the country, behind Hull at nine per cent and Middlesbrough at 8.8 per cent.
The town is also second highest in the country for youth unemployment, with 1,425 people aged 18 to 25 claiming the benefit, which accounts for 17 per cent of people in that age group.
Hartlepool is also third highest in the country for the proportion of people claiming in the 25 to 49 age group, with 2,660 claimants, accounting for 8.9 per cent of people that age in the town.
The town is 20th for the over-50 age group with 725 claimants and four per cent of people that age.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “I think it is a sign of the times, every month I fully expect it to get worse before it gets better.
“I think it will continue in this way until we get some major employers into the town, but that doesn’t look very likely in the near future.”
But Mayor Drummond said the Tees Valley making the next stage of the City Deal scheme that will give local councils more powers in job creation and the economy is a positive.
He added: “We have been shortlisted for the City Deal scheme, it’s not going to solve all the problems in this area, but it is another tool to help us deliver what we are aspiring to do in creating and safeguarding thousands of jobs.
“This will hopefully bring flexibility and get things going.”
In the Easington constituency there was a rise of 74 claimants, from 3,406 in December to 3,480 in January.
Figures for the Stockton North constituency, which covers Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, show there was a rise from 4,173 to 4,293, while figures also rose in the Sedgefield constituency from 2,630 to 2,695.
The figures are contrary to those for the North-East that show 125,000 people are out of work between October and December last year, down by 2,000, and accounting for 9.7 of people of working age.
Nationwide the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen to a near two-year low after a huge increase in employment.
Almost 30 million people were in work at the end of 2012, an increase of 154,000 on the quarter to September, and the highest total since records began in 1971.
The so-called claimant count fell for the third month in a row in January, down by 12,500 to 1.54 million, the lowest since June 2011.
Unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, fell by 14,000 in the final quarter of last year to 2.5 million - 156,000 lower than a year ago.
But youth unemployment increased by 11,000, the highest rise for a year, and the number of people with more than one job increased by 41,000 to 1.1 million.