UNEMPLOYMENT in Thurrock has hit a five-year low.
Latest figures published last week revealed that 3,310 people of working age are currently receiving out-of-work benefits, down by almost 900 compared with this time last year.
Youth unemployment in Thurrock is also down to its lowest level in five years but remains significantly higher than the regional and national averages.
Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock welcomed news that unemployment was at its lowest since January 2009, but admitted there challenges to tackle.
She said: “Figures show that jobs are being created in Thurrock at a more rapid rate than in other areas of the country. This is very positive although we shouldn’t be complacent.”
She added: “There remains an important challenge in opening up opportunities for our young people.
“Improving schools will help but we need to open up opportunities for young people to acquire the skills that employers need.
“There is also a big challenge in making our young people aware of the opportunities available to them here in Thurrock.”
Youth unemployment in Thurrock is well down on its peak of 10.4 per cent two years ago, when 1,380 18 to 24 year olds were out of work.
It is at its lowest level since November 2008. In January, 845 - or 6.4 per cent of - 18 to 24 year olds were out of work in Thurrock compared with 4.4 per cent in the East of England and 5.1 in Great Britain.
Polly Billington, the parliamentary candidate for Labour in Thurrock said: “Many young people in Thurrock are being left behind and feeling no signs of any economic upturn.
“We need a jobs guarantee to make sure there is a job for all long-term young unemployed people.”
Ms Billington added: “Those with jobs are struggling on zero hours contracts which make it harder to make ends meet and wages aren't rising in line with the cost of living.
“This Tory-led government celebrating these latest figures is a real slap in the face for ordinary people and unemployed 18 to 24year olds.”
ONE of the key men charged with helping people back into work in Thurrock has outlined the sorts of things being done to find jobs for the borough’s 18 to 24 year olds.
Andrew Newcombe, the customer services manager from Thurrock Jobcentre Plus said reducing the rate of youth unemployment is a priority.
And number of incentives are in place to drive down unemployment.
Mr Newcombe said: “Our results are good. Since April, for young people whose CVs lack a work history, we have arranged over 137 work experience opportunities.
"Businesses prepared to give a young person a chance, can draw on help with take-on costs. In the last ten months 78 local employers have taken up the £2275 wage incentive offer.
“Also for some young people lacking necessary skills, we arrange skill assessments and broker free training, so they can apply for vacancies in the locality.
“We recently arranged for training and work experience in the Care industry, which resulted in 10 people starting work.”
-3,310 (3.2%) people were claiming job seekers allowance in Thurrock in January 2014
-4,605 (4.4%) people were claiming job seekers allowance in Thurrock in February 2012, when unemployment was at its highest.
-3%: the percentage of people claiming job seekers allowance in Great Britain in January 2014
-2.3%: the percentage of people claiming job seekers allowance in the East of England in January 2014
-845 (6.3%): the number of 18-24 year olds in Thurrock currently out of work
-4.4%: the percentage of 18-24 year olds claiming job seekers allowance in the East of England
-5.1%: the percentage of 18-24 year olds claiming job seekers allowance in Great Britain