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Unemployment falls as firms get set to recruit for festive season

PUBLISHED: 17:06 13 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:06 13 November 2018

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts - and will be hiring 100 people for the festive season. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts - and will be hiring 100 people for the festive season. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

From turkey catchers to Christmas card sorters, seasonal jobs are in abundance across Norfolk as the county heads into the festive period.

The surge in vacancies has been reported by the county’s Jobcentre Plus, against a backdrop of flatlining unemployment in the East of England.

In its quarterly employment market update, the Office for National Statistics said that the number of people unemployed in the region has fallen by 1,000 to stand at 100,000 in the last quarter.

“The picture in Norfolk is a good one,” said Stephen Lankester, the district operations leader for Norfolk at Jobcentre Plus.

“We’ve got plenty of jobs going with a lot of big companies recruiting – 400 at Bernard Matthews and 100 at the Royal Mail – but we’re also seeing smaller companies recruiting in the more rural parts of the county.”

Despite unemployment being forced down, the East’s employment rate also fell by 0.5 percentage points to 78.2% as economic inactivity rose.

Economic inactivity is driven up by factors like an increase in students, long-term sickness, or people who have simply given up looking for a job.

“Of course we need to make sure that people don’t find seasonal work and then find themselves unemployed again come January,” said Mr Lankester.

“This is why we hold short and sharp funded training sessions to give people transferable skills to get them into full-time work.”

Across Norfolk, 416 more people were claiming job seeker’s allowance (JSA) in September than the same time last year, to a total of 3,615.

Norwich saw the biggest increase, and was responsible for around half of the county’s rise (up 243 to 1,234). In Great Yarmouth, the figure fell by 75 to 276 - the biggest drop in the county.

“The fact that we’re seeing a rise in people claiming JSA in some areas and a fall in others is because some have their benefits from Universal Credit and some still have Job Seeker’s Allowance.

“I can remember a time when we had 6,000 people queuing out of the job centre, so 1,000 shows a healthy economic picture,” added Mr Lankester.

Of those claiming JSA in Norfolk, around two thirds were men.

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