LABOUR TODAY SET out new plans for a job guarantee for the long term unemployed in the North and vowed to continue support for jobs and the economy until the recovery is secure. Latest figures show overall unemployment increased in the three months to February, whilst the claimant count fell in March. 

However, unemployment in the North East fell by 3,000 in the three months to
February, official figures have revealed. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 120,000 people were unemployed in the region between November and February. The region's unemployment rate was 9.5% and saw a decrease of 2.43% during the period.

Responding to today's unemployment figures, Labour’s Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said:

"These figures show just how vital it is to keep up support for jobs and the economy this year until the recovery is secure.

"Many people are still having a hard time as a result of the recession. February was a tough month and overall unemployment rose. But March figures for the claimant count show a drop - the fourth drop in five months.

“But the figures make clear we're not out of the woods yet. It would be disastrous for families and for jobs to cut back on public spending and support for the economy right now as the Tories have promised.

"It’s also essential to keep increasing the help for the unemployed this year - not abolish 200,000 jobs as the Tories want.

"Labour's support for jobs and the unemployed has made a difference. The number of young people on unemployment benefit has fallen for the fifth month running, and the number on the dole over 6 months has fallen thanks to the youth guarantee. The claimant count is also half a million lower than expected last year.

"But it is essential that the support continues. In previous recessions unemployment kept rising for years after recession finished, because the Conservative government had turned its back. We've always said we expected unemployment to increase until the summer. But that's why it's so vital to keep increasing help for the unemployed through the Future Jobs Fund and the Job Guarantee, not cut it all back and destroy jobs as the Conservatives would do."

- Ends -

Editor's notes:
1. February unemployment figures released today showed a rise of 43,000 in the ILO measure of overall unemployment in the quarter to February, after falls in previous months, confirming Labour's argument that it is too soon to cut support for jobs and the economy.

2. The March figures for the numbers on unemployment benefit fell by 33,000 - the third consecutive drop - and the claimant count is now 84,000 lower than the peak in October last year.

3. The youth claimant count for March fell by 12,200 - the fifth consecutive month in a row, and the number of young people unemployed more than 6 months also fell - showing that Labour’s youth guarantee is making a difference.

4. In the 1990s ILO unemployment continued to rise for eighteen months after the recession ended. In the 1980s ILO unemployment went up for over 3 years after the recession ended. This time we have seen the first falls in recent months but the government forecast remains for unemployment to rise until the summer previous recessions.

5. Labour is pledging 200,000 jobs through the Future Jobs Fund in the coming year as well as help for around 700,000 young and long-term unemployed through the Job Guarantees.