Welcome drop in local jobless total

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The number of local people out of work and claiming benefits has dropped by almost 18 per cent over the past 12 months, according to the latest government statistics.

The Monthly Labour Market Report shows that during November there were 1,677 people out of work and claiming unemployment benefit in the Newtownabbey area - 1,204 men and 473 women. That is a decrease of 96 people (5.4 per cent) on the previous month and a drop of 359 (17.6 per cent) over the year.

The local unemployment figure represents 3.1 per cent of the working age population - the sixth lowest of Northern Ireland’s 26 council areas.

According to the statistics, the number of confirmed redundancies in the Newtownabbey area for the year to November 30 was 219.

Across Northern Ireland there was a marked drop in unemployment benefit claimants last month. The number of people out of work fell by 700 during November, to 51,200.

Over the past 12 months the number of unemployed claimants in Northern Ireland has dropped by 8,800 (14.7 per cent).

Commenting on the latest Labour Market Report, East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross said: “These figures show that the economy in Northern Ireland continues to grow stronger, with unemployment down and the number of employee jobs rising.

“Despite this, it is important that we continue to do all we can to make Northern Ireland an attractive place to do business, encourage employers to expand and take on more staff and support people who wish to upskill.”