UNEMPLOYMENT in East Lancashire rose slightly last month, Government figures revealed today.

Official statistics for July showed just over 200 more people across the area claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), up from 15,272 in June.

However, the number is fewer than in May.

A business boss said the figures showed the area was suffering less than the country as a whole even as recession misery continues.

The stats, published by the Office for National Statistics, showed the number of jobless rose in all six boroughs in July:

  • Blackburn with Darwen (up by 21 to 4,232)
  • Burnley (up by 42 to 2,572)
  • Hyndburn (up by 47 to 2,120)
  • Pendle (up by 63 to 2,187)
  • Ribble Valley (up by 50 to 586)
  • Rossendale (up by 8 to 1,775)

Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said the area’s unemployment rate was still below the national average.

Government statistics showed that the number of people claiming JSA in Britain has risen by 24,900 to 1.58million.

However, the number of unemployed people, including those not claiming benefits, is 2.44million.

Mr Damms said: “These figures are pretty much as we expected them to be.

“We are still probably running a bit below the national average because as luck would have it, our key industries, like aerospace, have not suffered as badly as others, such as financial services.

“We are also sheltered by the number of people in public sector employment.

"It might help us now but in the long-term that may need to be reduced.”

However, he said it was still too soon to say when unemployment would begin to return to pre-recession levels.

Last October, just 8,218 were claiming JSA before the economic meltdown took hold.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that 700 new public sector jobs are to be created across East Lancashire.

Business leaders welcomed the news but said the region needed to rely less on public sector employment in future.