THE number of jobless benefit claimants in Hartlepool has fallen for the third month in a row.
New figures show there were 4,612 people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in May, the third time it has dropped since February when it stood at 4,678.
The latest figure is 7.9 per cent of the working age population in Hartlepool and leaves the town with the third highest proportion of people claiming in the country.
Despite the fall, the figure is significantly higher than this time last year, when Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants for May 2011 stood at 4,109 in the town.
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It comes after it was announced yesterday that Hartlepool is set to gain from 150 full and part-time jobs with the opening of a new Range store at the Tees Bay Retail Park, off the town’s Brenda Road.
The fall also comes after the Mail launched the Work in Progress campaign to highlight the plight of jobseekers in the town.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “It is a small step in the right direction, but nothing to get carried away with.
“Everyone knows how difficult things are and what both the public and private organisations are facing.
“It is nothing to get excited about and there are still more very difficult times ahead. But things like the announcement from Range are always going to be a boost.
“We are continuing to do everything we can to try to create as many jobs as possible.”
The Easington constituency had 3,195 claimants in May, down by 77 on the previous month.
In the Sedgfield constituency there was a rise of 85 claimants in May, up to 2,612 and the Stockton North constituenc,y, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, saw a fall of 20 claimants to 4,181.
The North-East saw unemployment rise by 8,000 to 145,000 between February to April, which is 11.3 per cent of the working age population in the region.
Nationally the jobless total dropped 51,000 to 2.61 million in the quarter to April, while the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in May rose by 8,100 to 1.6 million, ending two months of declines.
Almost eight million people are now in a part-time job, while those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work increased by 25,000 to 1.4 million.
Other figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people unemployed for more than a year increased by 85,000 to 886,000.
The number of people unemployed for more than two years rose by 29,000 to 434,000.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “Any fall in unemployment is very welcome, but I remain cautious over the next few months, given the continuing economic challenges we face.”