'The long term picture is looking very positive', that is the reaction from Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum to the latest unemployment figures.
This is despite records for the district showing the total number of claimants - including those on job seekers allowance and universal credit - has gone up nine per cent in the last year.
The figure has been recorded at 705, of which 115 are aged between 13 to 24, up by 55. However it stands at less than half what it did five years ago.
Highlighting that the area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, Mr Dignum said: "Over the past five years, the district has seen the number of claimants drop by 52 per cent, which is significant. However, it is worth remembering that this figure will fluctuate year on year, which has resulted in an extra 55 claimants over the last year.
"In the current economic climate, people are being more cautious, which is why we have probably seen this slight change. Overall, the economic picture within the district is looking positive, including the creation of 811 new businesses in 2017.
"As a council we are investing in numerous projects that aim to encourage the creation of more jobs. Examples include the brand new Enterprise Centre, which offers low cost accommodation to small businesses, through to the development of the Southern Gateway project. We also work directly with those who are unemployed through our Choose Work programme, which aims to help get people back into work. In retail, although some high street businesses have left the area, these have been replaced by others; plus, we are developing a number of new programmes that are designed to help retailers boost their businesses.”
The figures for Arun also show a rise in the last year with the total of claimants at 1,185, (225 are aged between 18 to 24) up 165 (16 per cent) year on year.
It too shows a decline compared to five years ago of 50 per cent.
Nationally the unemployment rate has remained at 4.4 per cent, with the employment rate recorded 'at a near-record high' of 75.2 per cent.
The minister for employment Alok Sharma said: “High employment rates are a reliable feature of today’s economy – and this is an incredible achievement. It is equally important that across society everyone has the opportunity to get a good job and get on in life.
“Today’s figures show that this government is building a fairer economy that supports people from all backgrounds to get into work. We are closing the BAME and gender employment gaps, and people across the country are accessing new opportunities.”
The South East continues to show high growth, with the employment level up 115,000 on the year and the employment rateup 1.3 percentage points to 79.9 per cent, according to the report.
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