Unemployment falls, but still worst in county

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UNEMPLOYMENT in Northumberland is falling, but the south east of the county remains the worst affected, according to new statistics.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that overall unemployment nationwide rose over the last quarter, but fell throughout the county.

Blyth Valley and Wansbeck remain joblessness blackspots, however, accounting for more than half of the county’s unemployment and benefits claimants.

In Blyth Valley, 3,000 people – 8.6 per cent of the population – were unemployed from April 2009 to last March.

An average of 3,000 people – 10.5 per cent of the population – were also on the dole in Wansbeck over that period.

In Blyth Valley, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance dropped from 2,538 at the end of March to 2,274 in December last year, and in Wansbeck it fell from 2,314 to 2,182.

The government is now pinning its hopes on what it believes are the industries of the future – such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals and green energy, the last of which is already being looked at for Blyth Quayside – to get more people now back into work.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “These figures serve to underline the scale of the challenge we face.

“We inherited the largest budget deficit in peacetime history and high levels of worklessness, which we are determined to bring down by rebalancing the economy and supporting private sector jobs growth – we are already seeing some improvement in the number of vacancies in the economy.

“More personalised support for jobseekers will be on offer through Jobcentre Plus and for the long term unemployed who need extra help we are introducing our Work Programme in the summer, which will offer support tailored to individual’s needs so that they can get into jobs and stay there.”

Earlier this year the government announced plans to push the growth of small businesses with a big expansion of its planned New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), helping to create up to 40,000 new businesses nationally by 2013.