Pre-Christmas workless drop

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The number of residents claiming Jobseeker's Allowance is down in Portsmouth.

The latest monthly claimant count shows that the figure fell from 4,612 in October to 4,536 in November - taking it to 3.2 per cent of the city's working age population.

The drop came as the pre-Christmas recruiting season in shops and restaurants began.

But in areas outside the city, joblessness grew slightly.

Havant, the area's unemployment blackspot, saw a rise from 2,058 to 2,071.

Fareham and Gosport also saw minor jumps, from 1,071 and 1,276, to 1,099 and 1,304 respectively.

Hampshire's total went from 14,878 to 14,908 in the period.

Caroline Collings, Portsmouth's chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: 'It's called seasonal employment. All the problems they're having with internet shopping are driving people back to the high street.'

But she said most restaurant and retail jobs are in Portsmouth, explaining why there was no decrease in joblessness in the surrounding area.

The figures were released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.