SOUTH Tyneside remains an unemployment blackspot for the young, despite another slight decrease in the jobless count.
Latest figures reveal 7,119 people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in March, which is 7.1 per cent of the borough’s working age population.
This compares with 7,178 the previous month, or 7.2 per cent of the working age group.
But while the borough’s jobless total fell slightly for the second successive month, local youth unemployment remains a cause for concern and is still much higher than the regional or national average.
Although local unemployment among jobseekers aged 18 to 24 decreased slightly, from 2,290 in February to 2,260 in March, youth unemployment in South Tyneside still stands at 15.2 per cent, much higher than the 11.3 per cent figure for the North East as a whole and the national average of 8.3 per cent.
Figures show that a total of 1,200 borough jobseekers aged 18 to 24 have been unemployed for up to six months, 645 between six months and a year, and 395 for more than a year.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration, economic growth and jobs, said: “Though it is encouraging to see another fall in the claimant count, we are not complacent, and remain fully committed to creating the conditions needed for business and enterprise to flourish.
“It is only by creating such conditions that we can attract inward investment and new job opportunities for local people.
“We are also continuing to support residents into work by helping them to obtain the skills they need to enter the workplace in the industry of their choice.”
Nationally, unemployment fell by 35,000 to 2.65 million over the period December to February – the first fall in the total jobless count since last spring.
But while the unemployment rate declined slightly from a 12-year high of 8.4 per cent to 8.3 per cent – the lowest level since last summer – the national claimant count rose by 3,600 in March to 1.61m.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “While any rise in the number of jobs is welcome, the fact is that full-time employment is still falling and a record 1.4m are now stuck in involuntary part-time work.”