Jobless rise in Stevenage but fall in North Herts

UNEMPLOYMENT has gone up for the first time in five months in Stevenage while numbers in North Herts have continued to decline, new statistics have revealed.

December 2010 saw numbers claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) in Stevenage rise by 35 to 2,083 when compared with the previous month, following a downward trend since July.

JSA numbers for North East Hertfordshire fell by 25 to 1,218 and Hitchin and Harpenden also saw a similar fall of 18 to 1,139 since November, with both constituencies recording their lowest number of claimants since January 2009.

The figures were released by the Office of National Statistics last week on the backdrop of news that nationally the number of people unemployed in the UK increased by 49,000 for the three months to November 2010 to reach 2.50 million.

“We’ve got to take into account these figures with the downturn in the economy, said Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council.

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“The Government has to think very hard about this policy of savage cuts combined with jobs and growth. I’m particularly concerned for young people in the town as there isn’t a definite plan to get young people into work.”

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said: “The overall trend for the last six months has been falling unemployment in Stevenage and although there has been a slight rise in December, I do hope this is a blip.

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“I know those currently unemployed are desperate to get back into a job and the good news is local companies are telling me that business is getting better and they are more confident, which should lead to more jobs for local people.”

Responding to the latest figures, North East Herts MP Oliver Heald said: “This is good news for those looking for work, particularly as vacancies have risen too. It is also a tribute to the success of local employers, and those working in education and training.”

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin, said: “It’s encouraging that it’s continuing to go in the right direction. Currently most people I speak to in businesses locally seem to be looking to take people on.”

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