Slight drop in jobless total

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THE number of local people out of work and claiming benefits fell by 0.3 per cent during March - the first drop in the figure for several months.

According to the Department of Employment’s latest Labour Market Report, the borough’s jobless total stood at 2,280 during March - 1,640 men and 640 women. That represented an decrease of seven people from the previous month, but a rise of 5.3 per cent over the past year.

The percentage of Newtownabbey’s working age population out of work and claiming unemployment benefit still stands at 4.3 per cent - the seventh lowest figure of Northern Ireland’s 26 council areas.

Across Northern Ireland, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose to 61,500 during March. However, the province’s unemployment rate (6.8 per cent) remains below the UK (8.3 per cent) and Republic of Ireland (14.8 per cent) averages.