Number claiming unemployment benefits falls in Nottinghamshire

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The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Nottinghamshire dipped slightly last month, figures reveal – but was far above that seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 23,765 people were claiming out-of-work benefits as of mid-January, down from 24,250 in December last year.

However, the figure was still much higher than the 13,035 recorded in early March 2020.

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It means 4.7 per cent of Nottinghamshire’s working-age population sought support in January – up from 2.6 per cent nine months earlier.

The number claiming unemployment benefit in Nottinghamshire fell last monthThe number claiming unemployment benefit in Nottinghamshire fell last month
The number claiming unemployment benefit in Nottinghamshire fell last month

The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on jobseeker’s allowance and some universal credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

Those on benefits last month were among roughly 158,000 across the East Midlands.

The ONS cautioned that changes to universal credit in response to the virus mean more people can get the benefits while still being employed, which could affect the figures.

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It also said a small number of people who can claim both jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit could be counted twice.

Separate ONS figures show the country’s unemployment rate rose to an estimated 5.1 per cent in the three months to December – the highest since early 2016.

There were 726,000 fewer workers on payrolls last month than before the start of the coronavirus crisis, the ONS said, with people aged under 25 accounting for nearly 60 per cent of that drop.

But a glimmer of hope in the figures reveals the number of payrolled workers rose by 83,000 between January and February in the second monthly increase in a row.

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Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said although the end of lockdown may now be in sight, the figures are a reminder that ‘the journey to economic recovery will be long’.

She added: "Unemployment is high and millions of families are already relying on universal credit to keep their heads above water.

"That number will only grow as furlough is unwound and unemployment peaks later this year.”