Latest unemployment figures up by 50pc in Norfolk and Waveney compared to five years ago

The number of people without a job in Norfolk and Waveney has risen by 50pc over the last five years, according to latest figures released today (Wednesday).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found a total of 22,896 (3.8pc) people were unemployed between January 2012 and February 2012, compared with 15,243 (2.6pc) during the same period in 2007.

But the figure is still not as high as it was in February 2010, when it reached a peak of 23,005 (3.8pc).

Norwich has come out as the local authority in the region with the highest number of people out of work at 4,720 (4.6pc).

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, said although any rise in unemployment was 'worrying' it was important to look at the long term picture, rather than month to month, to spot any trends.

She added: 'I make it my business to work with businesses locally in order to encourage more jobs in our area and in particular I am working with young people to understand what we can do to get them into work.'

Nationally the unemployment rate has increased to a near 17-year high and the rise in the jobless total amounts to almost 2.7m.

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Across Norfolk and Waveney the percentage of unemployment has risen by 0.3pc compared to last year and 1.2pc from 2007, but is equal to that of 2010.

Chris Starkie, programme director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, branded the figures as 'something not to be proud of' but defended them to be as expected.

He said: 'In the context of previous recessions the figures are not as bad as they have been.

'Since 2007 we have had one of the worst downturns in the last 50 years so a rise in numbers was inevitable. Given the depth of it, it's a big surprise the number isn't higher.'

Other figures from the ONS showed that nationally public sector employment fell by 37,000 in the final quarter of 2011 to just under 6m, while the numbers employed in private firms increased by 45,000 to 23m.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous praised the oil and gas industry in Lowestoft - highlighting it as an 'positive sign' area for creating work - and added that renewable energy sectors in Waveney show signs of 'bringing the long-term unemployed back into work'.

The total number of jobless in Waveney is 3,359 (4.8pc), which is the second highest rate of people out of work in the region.

'The number of unemployed people actively looking for work has increased and what we need to do now is create those new jobs,' he said.

'Unemployment is a major challenge and there is a lot of work still to do.

'What we need to do now is create a stable economic environment to aid recovery and introduce a variety of incentives across the board.'

He added that feedback from a seminar he held in January aimed at young unemployed was 'encouraging'.

The ONS figures also showed that youth unemployment increased by 16,000 to reach 1.04m, a jobless rate of 22.5pc, and the number of unemployed women jumped to 1.13m.

The number of people working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job increased to 1.3m, the highest since records began in 1992. Part-time employment rose to 6.6m and self-employment fell to just over 4m.

Nationally the unemployment rate is now 8.4pc, up by 0.1pc from the previous quarter, the highest since the end of 1995.