Shropshire jobless figure falls by 3%

Unemployment has fallen by more than three per cent across Shropshire and to its lowest rate since 2011.

Unemployment has fallen by more than three per cent across Shropshire and to its lowest rate since 2011.

Latest figures for March show there are currently 5,173 people in the county claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) benefit, compared to 5,350 in the previous month, a drop of 3.3 per cent. The number represents the lowest figure since December when there were 4,906 claimants.

The unemployment rate has also dropped in Shrewsbury & Atcham, with 1,846 now looking for work while claiming Job Seekers, compared to 1,892 in February, which was the highest figure for more than 15 years.

The figures for March, published by the Office for National Statistics, also reveal that just 7.2 per cent of people receiving state handouts in Shropshire are aged 18 to 24, well below the West Midlands’ average of 10.2 per cent.

It comes after latest national figures showed the unemployment rate now stands at 2.65 million, following a decrease of 35,000 in the three months to February.

County business leaders have welcomed the news and said making small steps were important in completing a full recovery.

Peter Bettis, chairman and president of Shrewsbury Business Chamber, said he was not too concerned about this week’s confirmation of a double-dip recession because the actual numbers had not changed significantly.

He added: “The fact that unemployment has dropped slightly is great news and suggests we in Shropshire are slowly coming out of the worst of it.

“There’s a lot of hard work being done by a lot of people across the county to create growth in all sectors and it is nice to see that we are gradually making progress. What is key now is to continue making progress.”

On Wednesday the UK returned to recession after shrinking by 0.2 per cent in the first three months of 2012, meaning Britain is in the midst of a double-dip recession. A sharp fall in construction output was behind the fall, the Office for National Statistics said.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

By David Seadon