Jobless total drops for second month in a row

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THE number of local people out of work and claiming benefits fell slightly last month - a second welcome drop in the jobless total in as many months.

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency’s November Labour Market Report, the borough’s jobless total stood at 2,340 during October - 1,646 men and 694 women.

That represented an decrease of 19 claimants (0.8 per cent) from the previous month, but a rise of 8.4 per cent (181 people) over the past year.

The percentage of the borough’s working age population out of work and claiming unemployment benefit now stands at 4.4 per cent - the eighth lowest figure among Northern Ireland’s 26 council areas.

Across the province, the figures for October show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants rose by 600 from the previous month to 64,100.

Reflecting on the worsening unemployment situation, South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan called on banks and investors to “show the zeal and initiative that drives all great economies”.

“In Northern Ireland we have some wonderfully energetic and dynamic business people - let’s encourage them to get together to inject confidence back into our local markets, let’s focus on the very best that we have to offer and package it in a way that is irresistible to those with capital to spare,” he commented.

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs added: “It is all too easy to talk about these figures as if they are some kind of abstract statistic and lose sight of the fact that they represent real people and real families suffering real hardship.

“The Stormont Executive needs to utilise every possible tool available to try and minimise the impact of the current situation and aid recovery as soon as possible.”