Unemployment falls by 2pc in Norfolk and Waveney

The number of unemployed people in Norfolk and Waveney fell by 2pc last month, according to figures released today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed unemployment had dropped from 22,896 in February (an unemployment rate of 3.8) to 22,495 in March (3.7).

But the total number of people out of work was still higher than it was in December last year when 20,982 (3.5) people were without a job.

Meanwhile, across the East, national ONS figures revealed unemployment fell by 17,000 in the three months to February.

It comes as unemployment dropped nationally for the first time in almost a year, but the number of jobless women rose to its highest figure for almost 25 years.

Chris Starkie, programme director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said it was 'too early to say' whether the figures were part of a longer trend.

He said: 'Unemployment in Norfolk and Waveney is likely to remain the same over the coming months because the economy is still struggling to grow.

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'Any drop is good news, but we are keen to see numbers drop on a more consistent basis over several months.'

Across the country, unemployment fell by 35,000 in the quarter to February, leaving 2.65m out of work and a jobless rate of 8.3pc.

But there was a rise in the number of jobless women by 8,000 to a record 1.14 million in the latest quarter.

In Norfolk and Waveney, unemployment has risen by 53pc in the last five years, with 22,495 (3.7) out of work in March 2012, compared to 14,746 in March 2007.

But Norwich has remained the district with the most unemployed people - with 4,667 (4.5) without a job last month compared to 4,720 (4.6) in February- despite recording a small decrease.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: 'The figures show a small dip which is extremely welcome because any one person out of work is a tragedy for the individual.

'I spend a lot of time talking to local firms to see how they can grow. I am also conducting a survey with Norwich City College students to see what problems young people face.'

Nationally, there are 1.03m unemployed 16-to-24-year-olds, down by 9,000 from the three months to November and the lowest total since last autumn.

Since February, youth unemployment has dropped across Norfolk and Waveney by 2pc.

Great Yarmouth has the highest youth unemployment rate of 16.1pc.

But Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis believes there are signs of improvement as the number of unemployed 16-to-24-year-olds fell in the area from 1,405 in February to 1,330 in March.

He said: 'Unemployed young people in Yarmouth is a key issue. There are two or three wards we need to work on.

'While the figures show some positive signs, this is just the start.

'It is light at the end of tunnel and it does show there is economic growth in Yarmouth.

'East Anglia, as a whole, is a forward-thinking technically advanced economy. We are at the start of a five to 50 year opportunity for Norfolk thanks to the renewable energy industry.'

Nationally, the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance increased for the 17th month in a row in March, up by 3,600 to 1.61 million.

The number of people out of work for over a year jumped by 26,000 to 883,000, the worst total since 1996.

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