Jobless total still continues to rise

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THE number of local people out of work and claiming benefits rose by just under two per cent last month - a significant improvement on the seven per cent increase recorded during January.

According to the Department of Employment’s March Labour Market Report, the borough’s jobless total stood at 2,287 during February - 1,640 men and 647 women. That represented an increase of 41 people (1.8 per cent) from the previous month, and a rise of 4.7 per cent over the past year.

The percentage of Newtownabbey’s working age population out of work and claiming unemployment benefit increased to 4.3 per cent last month, but still remains the eighth lowest figure of Northern Ireland’s 26 council areas.

Across Northern Ireland, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by another 200 to 61,400 during February. However, the province’s unemployment rate decreased over the last quarter to 6.5 per cent and remains below the UK (8.4 per cent) and Republic of Ireland (14.5 per cent) rates.