UNEMPLOYMENT is on the increase in Eastbourne but remains below the national average.
Figures released by the National Office of Statistics this week comparing unemployment rates today to those six years ago show that 3.6 per cent of the working adult population (aged between 16 and 64) are in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, compared to just 2.2 per cent back in January 2005.
The figure peaked at 4.2 per cent in February 2010 before dipping to a recent low of 3.2 per cent in December of the same year.
However, since then unemployment here on the Sunshine Coast has gone up, albeit slightly, before plateauing out at 3.6 per cent since the turn of 2011.
That is just under the current national average, which sits at 3.7 per cent and is far better than many similar sized towns, like nearby Hastings which is suffering from a 5.7 per cent unemployment rate – almost double that of 2005.
Eastbourne did come out worse than both Brighton (3.4 per cent) and Lewes (2.2 per cent) but the town’s MP said he was confident the latest figures were a blip rather than cause for long-term concern.
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd, who has worked hard to engage the local business community since he took the helm last year, said the overall picture was still encouraging and that great strides had been made to reduce the figure over the last 12 months.
He said, “We have been going in the right direction and Eastbourne was bucking the national trend.
“The local economy has been a real priority and we had managed to not only hold the line but unemployment was dropping.
“This is a knock but hopefully with a good sunny summer we will get back to seeing it drop.”
The LibDem also said that despite some smaller shops and businesses falling by the wayside, the indications are that large firms have confidence in Eastbourne and that further investment would continue. “The plans for the Arndale centre are massive,” he said.
“That could create 500 new jobs, and the planned Morrisons at Hampden Park will bring another 200.
“Big businesses do not spend money at the drop of a hat and they are choosing to invest in Eastbourne.”