UNEMPLOYMENT in the Portsmouth area has reached its lowest level for five years, according to the latest statistics.
The figures come as the government is hailing record private sector employment, with 25.5m people now working in the private sector nationally – up 2.3m since 2010.
The final set of official statistics in this parliament show that there are 2,775 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Portsmouth – a figure that has steadily fallen since reaching a high of 5,744 in April 2010.
It means two per cent of the working population in the city is unemployed – down from four per cent five years ago.
The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show there are 560 JSA claimants aged 18 to 24, 1,615 aged 25 to 49, and 600 aged 50 to 64.
In other areas, Havant’s unemployment has also fallen, with 1,353 JSA claimants compared to 2,822 in February 2012.
In Fareham, the latest statistics show 525 claimants – less than one per cent – and far lower than the high of 1,395 in March 2012.
Gosport has 808 claimants – down by a thousand from 1,806 in February, 2012.
Other areas show similar drops, with Chichester district having 713 claimants, East Hampshire having 454, and Winchester district with 419 jobseekers.
Nationally, figures show there are a record 30.9m people in work with the lowest unemployment since 2008.
Youth unemployment has fallen by a fifth.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is a remarkable set of figures, which underlines this government’s success in backing businesses to create jobs, and supporting British people to seize those opportunities. As a country we should be proud.’
Labour Councillor Richard Brown, who represents Warren Park in Havant where unemployment has been as high as 10 per cent, was sceptical.
He said: ‘I hope a lot of these jobs are not part-time and low paid because a lot are.
‘As soon as you get a low-paid job, you come off the figures.
‘It’s about the quality of the jobs.
‘There’s still a lot of under-19s unemployed in Leigh Park. They don’t all want to work in shops. Some want to do engineering work and there’s very little of that. We need more apprenticeships.’