JOBLESS figures have rocketed for a second month in Hartlepool and east Durham.
There was a rise of 700 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in the four constituency areas covered by the Hartlepool Mail in the last month as joblessness continues to increase.
A further 182 Hartlepool people claimed the benefit last month compared to December last year.
Figures for January show 4,633 people claimed the benefit, up from 4,451 in December.
The statistic - branded “dreadful” by the town’s MP - represents eight per cent of the town’s 58,100-strong working population and leaves Hartlepool joint second in the UK for the percentage of people claiming the benefit, level with Middlesbrough and below Kingston upon Hull, at 8.6 per cent.
The percentage leaves Hartlepool and Middlesbrough with the highest ratio of claimants in the region.
The grim figure is also up by 1,609 compared to this time 10 years ago and has soared by 319 compared to January 2011.
The average for the North-East is 5.6 per cent and four per cent for the national average.
The news comes after the Mail launched our Work in Progress campaign, which highlights the plight of the unemployed and aims to help people off the dole queue.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “I think this shows more than ever the real pressing need for the Government to change course and pursue an economic strategy based upon jobs and economic growth.
“It’s all very well George Osborne sitting in London or flitting around the world and saying his austerity programme of cuts is working.
“But these figures are all too vivid and demonstrate that people in Hartlepool are suffering.
“The Government needs to take heed of these dreadful figures and change course.”
There were 1,460 young people aged 18 to 24 claiming the benefit, which is 17.6 per cent of that age group and up from 1,440 in December.
In the 25-49 age group, there were 2,530 claimants, or 8.5 per cent of the age group, representing a rise from 2,390 the previous month.
From the 50-64 age range, there were 615 people claiming the benefit, which is 3.5 per cent of the group and up from 595 in December.
The Easington constituency area saw a rise of 184 claimants, up from 3,530 in December to 3,714 in January, equating to 6.1 per cent of the 61,000-strong working population.
In the Stockton North constituency, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, a further 215 people claimed the benefit.
This was up from 3,944 in December to 4,159 last month.
The Sedgefield constituency has 2,515 claimants, which is up by 119 from 2,396 last month.
Nationally, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance last month increased by 6,900 to 1.6m.