Jobless figures rocket

Hartlepool Job Centre Plus.

Hartlepool Job Centre Plus.

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THE last month has seen the biggest monthly rise in people on jobless benefit in more than 10 years.

Hartlepool has seen the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rocket by 281 claimants between December and January.

It is the highest rise since January 2000 and is at the highest level since January last year.

The four constituencies of Hartlepool, Easington, Sedgefield and Stockton North, which are covered by the Mail, all saw rises that totalled 727 more people claiming last month than the month before.

In December last year there were 4,033 people claiming the benefit in Hartlepool, compared to 4,314 last month.

Hartlepool has the fourth highest rate of claimants in the country, at 7.4 per cent, behind Wolverhampton on the same figure and Middlesbrough and Hull on 7.6 per cent.

It comes after the Mail revealed that just 73 vacancies were advertised at Hartlepool’s job centre last Friday for more than 4,000 people on the dole queue.

While the figures do not take into account positions which are advertised elsewhere, it showed there was just one job advertised for every 55 jobseekers in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said the latest figures again show the town is facing a “grim” situation and it could get worse in the coming months as job cuts in the public sector, including 86 at Hartlepool Borough Council, take hold.

Mayor Drummond said: “I have been saying for some time that it will get worse before it gets better and I think it will be the case for the next 12 months.

“It is hard to put down where the sharp rise came from, but it could be seasonal work coming to an end.

“I think there could also be a rise before the end of the financial year with job cuts in the public sector.

“It is grim and I can’t see anything happening to make it better.”

Figures for Easington show the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants rose from 2,592 to 2,709 in the same period and the number for Sedgefield rose from 1,911 to 2,066.

The number in the Stockton North constituency area, which includes Billingham, also rose, from 3,608 to 3,782 in the same time period.

Nationally, unemployment rose by 44,000 to 2.5m people, which accounts for a rate of 7.9 per cent.

In the North-East unemployment stands at 129,000, a rise of 13,000, and a rate of 10.2 per cent.