Unemployment has risen in Derbyshire – despite falling nationally.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance in the county grew from 10,285 in December 2013 to 10,969 last month – a rise of 684 or 6.7 per cent.
Nationally, the dole queue fell last month by 27,600 to 1.22 million.
But Derbyshire is in a better position than 12 months ago.
In January 2013, the number of people looking for work was 15,103.
George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire chamber of commerce, said: “We usually see an increase in the number of claimants in January as seasonal contracts come to an end.
“But it’s pleasing to see that the number of claimants in January 2014 was significantly lower than it was in January 2013, which highlights just how much progress the economy in Derbyshire has made over the past 12 months.
“The latest employment figures are extremely positive and provide further evidence of jobs growth over the past 12 months as local businesses recruited to cope with an upturn in demand, sales and orders.”
But Mr Cowcher said that the economic recovery was by no means fully secured.
He said: “We’ve still got a way to go before the economy is back to full health but we are heading – at a good pace – in the right direction.
“Businesses in Derbyshire played a central role in driving the growth experienced in 2013 and are ready to take this further in 2014.
“To enable this to happen they need to be supported by a workforce ready for the demands that will be required.
“Chancellor George Osborne has the ideal opportunity with the forthcoming Budget to address some of the existing skills gaps and help ensure those in the labour market possess the right mix of skills, qualifications and attitudes to meet the requirements of local employers.”
The unemployment figures come as the growing demand for food banks in Derbyshire was confirmed by a Government report. According to the study, Clay Cross food bank fed 2,557 residents in 2013 compared with 944 in 2012 – an increase of 171 per cent. Councillor Dave Allen, Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for health and communities, said: “It’s appalling.”