UNEMPLOYMENT fell slightly in Hartlepool last month according to latest figures.
The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in town topped 4,501 in April.
That marked a slight improvement on the previous month when the figure was 4,657 people claiming the benefit.
Unemployment in Hartlepool has fallen steadily since the start of the year with 340 fewer people signing on.
But the town still has the second highest level of unemployment in the whole of the North-East at 7.7 per cent – more than double the national unemployment rate.
And youth unemployment continues to remain high with 1,285 people aged 18-24 out of work.
Again Hartlepool had the second highest rate for the North-East, at 15.3 per cent of the town’s population, just behind South Tyneside.
And total of 390 of those young people in Hartlepool have been out of work for more than a year.
Last month saw the opening of a new Dunelm Mill store in town which has created 50 new jobs.
But 800 people applied to work for the shop highlighting the scale of the town’s jobs situation.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said unemployment remains the biggest single social and economic problem facing the town.
He said: “Any fall in the jobless figures is welcome if it means people are getting good quality work and extra money in their pockets to spend in town.
“It is a very small drop and unemployment in Hartlepool remains far too high.
“What we need is a sustained period of sharp falls and we are certainly not getting any evidence that’s about to happen.
“We need an approach which encourages and incentives for good employment and well paid jobs in the town.”
In Easington constituency, unemployment stood at 6.3 per cent for April, or 3,355 people.
Sedgefield had 2,455 people out of work and for Stockton North, which includes Billingham and Wolviston, there were 4,092 people signing on, or 6.8 per cent of the population.
Nationally, unemployment between January to March grew by 15,000 to 2.51 million.
But the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 7,300 in April.
Employment minister Mark Hoban said the Government was “not complacent” about the issue.
He pointed to figures showing an increase in job vacancies for February to April 2013 which were up 40,000 compared with a year earlier to 503,000, and the highest since the end of 2008.
But Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary was critical of the Government.
He said: “We now have definitive proof the Government has simply failed to get Britain back to work.”
The figures were compiled by the Office for National Statistics.