Jobless figures drop by almost a half last month according to new figures

JobCentre in Harlow

JobCentre in Harlow - Credit: Archant

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell 40 per cent last month as the region’s employment picture showed further signs of strength.

Across east Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and north Suffolk the claimant count dropped from 18,890 to 11,152 in December compared to the same time last year.

It came as the national unemployment fell to its lowest level for more than six years, while pay rises continued to outstrip inflation, according to the Office For National Statistics.

The jobless total fell by 58,000 between September and November to 1.91 million, the lowest since autumn 2008, while a record 30 million people are in work.

However, unemployment in East Anglia increased by 1,000 in the three months to November, with 153,000 people out of work. The region’s unemployment rate was 4.9 per cent.

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Julia Nix, East Anglia district manager for Job Centre Plus, said the region should be encouraged by the falling number of young claimants.

Responding to concerns that the fall in unemployment could be fuelled by more part-time work opportunities, rather than a rise in ‘quality’ full-time careers, Mrs Nix said part-time work was right for some employees who wanted to work flexibly.

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She believes that the jobs market is now moving closer to where it was at the turn of the millennium when the economy was stronger.

On the national front, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell in December by 29,600 to 867,000, the 26th consecutive monthly cut, said the ONS. Job vacancies have also reached a record - up by 19,000 to 700,000.

Average earnings increased by 1.7pc in the year to November, up by 0.3pc on the previous month. Pay started outstripping inflation at the end of last year.

Unemployment has fallen by 418,000 over the past year, although the latest quarterly reduction was the smallest since July to September 2013.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The drop in unemployment is welcome news. Behind the statistics are stories of people finding self-respect and purpose in life.”

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