Figures show new fall in West Norfolk unemployment benefit claims
Jobless support claims in West Norfolk have fallen again, according to new figures out this morning.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were 4,130 people in the borough who were out of work and claiming benefits during October, down by 150 on the previous month.
It's the third successive month that the figures have shown a fall in claims, although national data suggests unemployment is still rising.
Claims soared during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, with the West Norfolk figure peaking at just over 4,700, the highest since 1994.
But, since then, the total has been generally falling, with around 550 fewer claims last month than at the peak of the crisis to date.
Neighbouring districts have also seen a drop in claims, with Breckland's total falling by 110 to 3,415.
The October figure in North Norfolk was 2,320, down 190 on the September total, while South Holland saw a fall of 80 claims to 2,835.
But the proportion of the workforce who are claiming in West Norfolk is higher, at 4.9 per cent, than in either Breckland or North Norfolk and only just below the overall five per cent figure for the county as a whole.
Nationally, the ONS said the rate of unemployment had risen to 4.8 per cent during the three months to September, with a record number of redundancies recorded.
Projections for West Norfolk, which only go up to the end of June, suggested the rate remained steady at around 3.3 per cent of the workforce.
But the Government, which last week announced an extension to the furlough scheme that will now run until the end of next March, has been criticised for not acting early enough to protect workers laid out in anticipation of the scheme's original closing date at the end of October.
And the ONS says it is too early to say whether the extension of furlough may prevent further big rises in unemployment.