The number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in Hartlepool remained almost static last month.
There were 4,170 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit in the town in March, a rise of just 10 on February’s figure.
The labour market in the North East has been steadily improving over the past couple of years. The Government should take action to ensure that this continues.Paul Carbert
There were 2,485 claimants in Easington, a rise of 105, and 2,360 in Stockton North, up just 35.
But the claimant count actually fell month-on-month in Sedgefield, down to 1,500 in March, a drop of 45.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said figures showed Hartlepool had the second highest proportion of unemployment claimants in the country.
But the comparatively advanced roll-out of Universal Credit in the town made direct comparisons with other areas difficult.
“The figures are affected by Universal Credit, which includes a broader span of claimants who are required to look for work than under Jobseeker’s Allowance,” he said.
“The effect is more visible in areas like Hartlepool, where Universal Credit is rapidly moving to full service.
“Figures for other constituencies in the UK are, therefore, skewed by the fact that Universal Credit has not been rolled out.
“None the less, the figures for Hartlepool remain disappointingly high and I am working hard with the council, businesses and other agencies to address the issue.”
Employment in the North East stands at 1,231,000 or 73.4 per cent (compared to 75.4 per cent nationally) - an increase of 2,000 over the quarter and 27,000 over the year.
Across the region, unemployment stands at 63,000 or 4.8 per cent - a fall of 5,000 over the quarter and 20,000 over the year.
The national rate is 4.2 per cent.
The out-of-work benefit claimant count stands at 57,700 or 4.7% in the North East. The national claimant count rate is 2.4%.
North East England Chamber of Commerce policy adviser Paul Carbert welcomed the lastest regional figures, but warded against complacency: “Some really positive figures for the North East this quarter,” he said.
“The region has the highest level and rate of employment and lowest level and rate of unemployment since comparable records began in 1992. Also a healthy fall in the economic inactivity rate, the largest drop in the country.
“The labour market in the North East has been steadily improving over the past couple of years.
“The Government should take action to ensure that this continues, by monitoring the costs to businesses of taking on staff, and ensuring that the education system is responsive to firms’ skills needs.”