THE number of people looking for work on Wearside fell again last month.
There were 5,518 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance – paid to those classed as actively seeking a job – in December, a drop of 347 on November’s figure of 5,865.
Nationally, there has been concern that the drop in claimant numbers may be more to do with claimants having their benefits withdrawn as a result of Department of Work and Pension sanctions rather than actually finding work.
Research by academics at the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and presented at a Commons select committee inquiry into welfare sanctions yesterday, questions why so many people losing benefit disappear from the welfare system altogether.
North East Jobcentre Plus spokesman Steve McCall said the drop on Wearside was a result of people finding work.
“The vast majority of these are going into employment,” he said.
“There are full-time and part-time opportunities out there that we are filling on a monthly basis in things like hospitality, contact centres and care providing and openings at Nissan.”
Jobcentre bosses are braced for a post-Christmas rise in the figures this month: “Historically, there is normally a little bit of a jump in January as people come to the end of seasonal contracts,” said Mr McCall.
“That is why we look at it over the course of a year rather than on a monthly basis, and the trend is definitely going the right way.”