Welcome fall in local jobless total

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The number of local people out of work and claiming unemployment benefits has fallen by almost 20 per cent over the past 12 months, according to the government’s latest figures.

The latest Labour Market Report reveals that the claimant count in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area in July was down by 19.5 per cent (329 people) from the same period in 2016 - the third biggest percentage drop across Northern Ireland.

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, last month there were 1,360 unemployment benefit claimants in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area - 892 men and 468 women. That represents a fall of 0.7 per cent (10 people) from the previous month.

The area’s claimant count, which stands at 1.5 per cent of the working age population, is now the lowest among the 11 council areas.