SOUTH Tyneside’s first jobless total for 2013 has shown a slight increase – despite general good employment news across the North East and the UK.
Following a small decrease in local unemployment before Christmas, the number of people in the borough claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) rose from 7,238 in November to 7,248 in December.
And South Tyneside’s jobless rate remains high at 7.3 per cent of the working age population, well above the North East figure of 5.5 per cent.
The figures reveal 4,877 men and 2,371 women in the borough are now claiming JSA.
Youth unemployment in South Tyneside also remains a cause for concern, with 2,145 people aged 18 to 24 now on benefit. The total number of people aged 18 to 24 out of work for up to six months now stands at 1,265.
But across the North East, unemployment stands at 119,000, a fall of 10,000 over the last quarter and 36,000 over the past year.
And total employment in the region has risen by 9,000 over the last quarter, with 1,184,000 now in work.
Ross Smith, director of policy for the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is fantastic to start the year with such a positive set of labour market figures, which continues the trend we saw throughout most of 2012.
“The ongoing steep fall in unemployment and rise in employment must be welcomed, with both standing at their best rate since August 2010.”
UK unemployment has fallen to 2.49 million, the lowest for 18 months.
The national jobless total fell by 37,000 between September and November, while the number of people in work increased to 29.7 million. In addition, the number of people nationally claiming JSA fell 12,000 to 1.56 million last month, the lowest figure since June 2011.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, has declared his continued commitment to reversing the figures.
But he remains concerned about the fragility and uncertainty of the economy.
He said: “Even though a slender increase in the jobless figures is worrying across the borough, South Tyneside Council is confident its work with local employers will continue to create, promote and fill job opportunities.
“The council implements crucial programmes to encourage employers and attract young people into work.
“This is evident through our successful apprenticeship and wage subsidy scheme.
“The borough is recognised for its excellence in engineering and manufacturing. This, coupled with new business ideas, will hopefully contribute to an encouraging 2013.”