Unemployment rates fall again

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NEW figures show that the number of people on benefits across the Portsmouth area has dropped in the last month.

In Portsmouth, the number fell to 2,661 in December - a decrease from November’s figure of 2,719.

Havant’s figure is now 1,274, down from 1,298.

Fareham is now 488 from 495, and Gosport is down to 734 from 753.

Nationally, a new milestone has been reached as the unemployment rate falls to its lowest in six years.

The new figures show that the number of people without a job has fallen by 418,000 in the past year, whilst job vacancies have risen by 127,000 - making a 14-year record high.

The Department for Work and Pensions say there are now around 700,000 job opportunities across the country.

The jobless rate is now 5.8% compared with 7.1% a year ago, and there are now a record 30 million people in work, said Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

He added: ‘We have reached an important milestone in this country’s jobs-led recovery - with unemployment falling below 6% for the first time in 6 years. Welfare reform has played an instrumental part in this.’

Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘The drop in unemployment is welcome news. Behind the statistics are stories of people finding self-respect and purpose in life.

But Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: ‘GDP per head is still 3% below 2007 levels and is the reason most workers have seen little or no evidence of any recovery.