Jobcentre boss hails falling unemployment figures

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THE number of jobseekers in Hartlepool has plummeted by 1,347 people compared to this time last year.

There were 2,822 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in August compared to 4,169 this time last year.

The latest figure is down from 2,938 the previous month and represents 4.8 per cent of the town’s working age population.

Chris Livingstone, operations manager for Durham Tees Valley Jobcentre Plus, says staff can “really see the difference”.

She said the number of 18 to 24 year-olds claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) has also dropped by 550, from 1,225 to 675 over the 12 months, which is also encouraging.

Ms Livingstone said: “If you look year-on-year you can really see the difference, but month on month for a small area can be volatile.”

She added that the 18-24 age group is a big focus for Jobcentre Plus as “that’s really where we make sure we get employers giving young people opportunities”.

“We are taking about the impact on people’s lives and that’s pretty big”, she said.

She said there was now a wider choice of jobs, especially in light and heavy industry, and the digital world.

Ms Livingstone added that a focus has been work in the fashion industry, and that the opening of the AMA Group clothes manufacturing site in Peterlee earlier this year had provided a boost.

She said Jobcentre Plus had also provided more than 2,500 different opportunities for work experience and accreditations over the past year, which has helped.

“My one plea for local employers is that they keep giving our local people those opportunities so they can build up their CVs and prove our people are able to do the jobs,” she said.

Nationally, the number claiming the benefit has now dropped below one million for the first time in six years.

The jobless total is now 468,000 fewer than a year earlier, the largest annual fall in unemployment since 1988.

There were 51 less people claiming JSA in the Easington constituency area, now at 1,837, compared to 1,888 in July.

But in the Sedgefield constituency, the figure has risen slightly, to 1,467 from 1,442.

In Stockton North, which includes Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, the number has dropped from 2,773 to 2,618.