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IT is not surprising that there has been such a response to the vacant positions at Debenhams.

Retail positions are among the most popular for those who are out of work and looking for a job they know will be secure, include training, and the possibility of promotion.

It is also the kind of job that someone from a different working background would consider applying for, if only to stop having to apply for Jobseekers’ Allowance.

In these troubling economic times, with the full effects of public sector and defence cuts not yet felt, yesterday’s figures from the Office of National Statistics make worrying reading.

They come in a background of high-profile redundancies during the past few years, including the Solent Motor Group, which had car dealerships in Portsmouth and Petworth, and IBM.

The only bright point, locally, is the figures for Portsmouth.

The figures relate to the number of people who claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance on February 10.

There were 3,427 claimants in Portsmouth then, which is 34 fewer than when the ONS measured the data on January 13.

In total, Hampshire has 11,369 people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance – up 443 from the month before.

Fareham’s unemployment figures show 840 people claimed the allowance on February 10, up 59 from the count on January 13.

In Gosport, 1,050 claim the benefit, which is an increase of 29.

Havant’s statistics show 1,579 people claim Jobseekers’ Allowance, exactly 60 more than in the January count.

In east Hampshire, 728 are unemployed, an increase of just three people on the previous data.