DOLE queues are continuing to grow in East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire, official figures have shown — with a further 248 people signing on between January and February this year.
The rise, possibly linked to the loss of seasonal jobs following the Christmas period, has forced East Staffordshire’s jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimant count back above the symbolic 2,000 mark for the first time since July last year.
There were 2,191 claimants in the borough last month, up from 1,984 in January. This means three per cent of residents aged between 16 and 64 are claiming the benefit, although this percentage is below the West Midlands and national averages of 4.7 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, there were 1,395 JSA claimants in South Derbyshire last month, an increase on January’s total of 1,354. The proportion of adults receiving the benefit in the district is also below the regional and national averages.
Chris Plant, divisional director of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses and employers, said the job market remained ‘robust’ despite the rise in joblessness.
The Mail reported last month how 370 people had joined dole queues in East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire between December and January.
Mr Plant said: “Despite the slight rise in unemployment, it is encouraging to see that conditions in the UK jobs market remain robust.
“Ultimately, the unemployment figures provide further evidence that businesses are doing all they can to support growth and create and retain jobs at a time when the economy remains weak.”
He urged ministers to go ‘all out’ to strengthen Britain’s economy.
“The Government must go all out in the name of growth and do much more to support the ambitions of UK companies, many of which will be the wealth creators of tomorrow,” Mr Plant said.
“Following a long period of decline, UK unemployment saw a small increase in the three months to January. There was also a surge in youth unemployment, which takes the total back up to near the one million mark.”
North West Leicestershire’s JSA count stood at 1,758 last month.