Unemployment continues to fall

Unemployment has dropped sharply in Northumberland over the last 12 months, new data has revealed.

The North East has also seen a fall over the most recent three-month period, but there was a reduction of the number of people in employment as well.

And concerns have been raised by a leading regional union official about the type of jobs available and the impact of further cuts to the public sector.

There are currently 4,523 people in Northumberland claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance – a decrease of 23 per cent compared to this time last year.

And there was a drop of 26 per cent over the same period in the county’s 18 to 24 age group.

The official statistics showed that unemployment in the North East fell by 5,000 to 95,000 for February to April and the monthly claimant count figure went down by 700 at the end May.

However, employment in the region for February to April was 3,000 lower than the previous three month total. Different statistics are used in each section, so it is possible to get an increase or decrease in both.

Pam Calvert, district communications manager at Jobcentre Plus, said: “People in the region are benefiting from a wider range of jobs being available and more apprenticeships from big firms such as British Gas and BT.

“In Northumberland, partnership working with organisations is helping to get people back into work.

“For example, a single mum who last worked three years ago received support from Christians Against Poverty and Mind so she was confident enough to apply for a job and we were able to get her into sustainable employment.

“The Go Smarter to work initiative in Northumberland is also having a positive impact because it is helping some of the people who have to commute to town and city areas to save money.”

Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC, said the 17,000 rise in employment for the North East over the last 12 months) was welcome, but there was still a lot of work to do because the region still has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the UK.

She added: “We need to tackle issues regarding the quality of jobs being created in the North East. Too many of them are low paid and low skilled, which is not a fruitful approach to a prosperous regional economy.

“It also can’t be achieved if there are further cuts to the public sector and people in the private sector will also be hit if their spouse or partner loses their public sector job.”