More than 23,000 people still looking for jobs in Bristol
THERE are still more than 23,000 people looking for jobs in Bristol, despite the UK's first fall in unemployment figures for almost a year.
Latest data showed that 23,235 people claimed job seeker's allowance in Bristol and its three neighbouring local authority areas in March – down by 121 on the previous month.
The total for the city of Bristol was 13,178, down from 13,287 in February.
In South Gloucestershire, the total number of jobseekers had gone up by 28, from 4,023 to 4,051, while in North Somerset it had fallen by eight, from 3,469 to 3,461.
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In Bath & North East Somerset, the number of people looking for work and claiming benefit was 2,545, down from 2,577 in February.
Overall unemployment, including those not actively looking for work, dropped across the country by 35,000. Employment Minister Chris Grayling described the figures as "a step in the right direction" but admitted: "We still have a long way to go."
Youth unemployment also showed a reduction across the country. But in the Bristol area, there were still 3,730 18 to 24-year-olds on the dole last month – a slight drop from February but almost 700 more than a year ago, while 350 under 24s have now been out of work for more than 12 months.
Average gross weekly pay was £483.80 – higher than the South West average but below the national rate.
The past month has seen the official launch of Bristol's enterprise zone, which is aimed at generating new jobs around Temple Meads station.
Ministers can also point to two announcements in last month's much-criticised budget, aimed at the aerospace and animation sectors, that are expected to safeguard jobs in the city.
At Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, David Cameron accused Labour leader Ed Miliband of "leaping on" previous monthly bulletins that showed unemployment increases, calling on him to welcome yesterday's figures.
Mr Miliband replied: "Only this Prime Minister could think that having a million young people unemployed is a cause of celebration."
The overall measure of unemployment, which includes those not actively looking for work, showed that unemployment increased by 4,000 across the South West compared to the previous quarter.
The total number in work went down by 21,000 on the previous quarter.