Small fall but jobless trend still in the rise

The latest statistics on unemployment figures have been released
The latest statistics on unemployment figures have been released

THE NUMBER of Fifers out of work and claiming jobseekers allowance (JSA) fell under the 11,000 mark in March, reports Debbie Clarke.

New figures revealed that Fife’s claimant count dropped from 11,036 in February to 10,889, although that number remains higher than at this time last year.

However, youth unemployment increased slightly - with 3225 people aged 18-24 on JSA in March compared to 3220 in February.

The statistics indicate that many people in that age category are finding it particularly difficult to gain work as the numbers of young people without a job for more than 12 months has more than doubled since this time last year.

The figure was 40 in March 2010, compared to 85 in March 2011.

The good news is that there does appear to be jobs available as unfilled Jobcentre vacancies rose from 987 in February to 1160 in March, which shows the numbers of claimants per vacancy fell from 11.2 to 9.4.

Last month it was claimed more home-grown industry would help jobseekers in Kirkcaldy find work.

Gordon Ruddiman, who is a development worker with the Council scheme ‘Opportunities Fife’, said it was difficult to get people jobs, particularly ones which are financially viable.

He said: “A lot of people are looking for a job which has a minimum of 30 hours per week for their working tax credit to kick in.

“At the moment there aren’t many suitable jobs which offer less than 30 hours a week and this means only a two to three pound difference to being on benefits.”

Mr Ruddiman, who runs weekly job clubs in Kirkcaldy, which aim to help jobseekers into employment, said the current economic situation is making it a very challenging time for people looking for work.

He added that it would be good to see more home grown industries developed in Fife offering skilled and semi-skilled positions as this might help more local people into jobs.

Fife Council has also said that it will do everything it can to help boost job opportunities in Fife.

In February the local authority agreed to invest £900,000 into sites with the potential to attract more employers to the area.