Unemployment across Norfolk and Waveney is way below the average numbers across the rest of the country, new statistics show.

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The national average for people out of work stands at 7.8pc, compared with 3.4pc in our region, which has remained unchanged for a year.

The number of unemployed young people aged 16 to 24 has fallen by 0.5pc year on year, matching the national average of 5.6pc.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday showed that the number of unemployed people in Norfolk and Waveney has, on average, remained the same as this time last year, with a small 0.1pc decrease in September and October.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, described the economic climate as “very challenging”.

She said: “The feeling is that the work that Norfolk is doing with apprenticeships is starting to make a real difference. It is very positive to see that employment is starting to stabilise.”

Great Yarmouth has the worst unemployment rate, with 6.1pc of people without a job, which is almost double the Norfolk and Waveney average, despite remaining unchanged from last year’s percentage.

Nationally, a record number of people aged 16 to 64 are in work.

The jobless total fell by 82,000 in the three months to October, to 2.51 million, down by 128,000 on a year ago, the biggest quarterly fall since spring 2001.

Figures showed the number of unemployed young people aged 16-24 in Norfolk and Waveney fell from 6.2pc in November last year, to 5.6pc now – in line with the national trend which saw youth unemployment at 6.3pc in November last year, and its current level of 5.6pc.

Last year unemployment affected 5,825 young people in the region, but it fell by 555 people a year later.

Corrienne Peasgood, the principal of Norwich City College, said the fall in youth unemployment both locally and nationally is welcome news for college students, and that they will continue to support young people into employment by providing the technical and vocational skills.

She said: “As a Gazelle College, we are working to equip our students with the entrepreneurial mind-set and skills to make them really stand out to potential employers, as well as providing the additional option of being able to start up on their own with support from the college.

“While the jobs market remains a challenging environment for many young people, we have seen a very positive response from employers in Norfolk to calls to create more apprenticeship opportunities to help young people into jobs with good training and prospects.

“We need this trend to continue to provide further openings for those who have yet to secure a job.”

Every area in the region reported a decrease in the number of young people out of work, with Yarmouth seeing the largest fall.

Despite having the worst unemployment in the region, and being above the national average, the borough’s numbers went down from 11.6pc last year, to 10.4pc this year.

Bordering counties Cambridgeshire and Suffolk also saw a decrease in their statistics from last year, with 1.7pc unemployment among 16 to 64-year-olds, a 0.1pc decrease from November last year.

And youth unemployment also dropped from 2.8pc last year to 2.5pc now in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Ian Taylor, chief executive officer of SkillsActive, the UK-wide skills champion for sport, active leisure and wellbeing, spoke about the statistic in Suffolk.

He said: “One of the biggest challenges facing recruiters in Suffolk today is finding young people who are ready for work.

“Vocation based training is the most powerful tool to develop potential, enhance skills and magnify young people’s chances of getting work.”

And Chris Starkie, the programme director for the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which looks at growing the Norfolk and Suffolk economy, said the picture revealed in yesterday’s statistics seems to be encouraging.

He said: “More jobs seem to be being created, and there are some early signs of big encouragement. “The problem of youth unemployment remains significant and it remains a priority for us all that there isn’t a lost generation for young people.”

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