Welcome drop in jobless total

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THE number of local people out of work and claiming benefits fell by almost three per cent during December - the second drop in the figure in as many months.

According to the government’s latest Labour Market Report, the borough’s jobless total stood at 2,222 during December - 1,600 men and 622 women. That represents a decrease of 2.7 per cent (62 people) from the previous month, but a rise of 6.3 per cent (131 people) over the past year.

The percentage of Newtownabbey’s working age population out of work and claiming benefits now stands at 4.2 per cent - the fifth lowest figure among Northern Ireland’s 26 local council areas.

Across Northern Ireland, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits continued to rise during December, up 0.8 per cent to 65,200.