THE number of jobless people claiming benefits in East Lancashire reduced last month as the region continues its crawl out of recession.

Across Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, 12,321 people were claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) last month, down from 12,719 in March.

Each borough saw fewer people claim JSA in April, although the reductions were marginal, according to official figures released today.

In Blackburn with Darwen, only 104 people came off JSA between March and April, with the total now 3,993.

And in Burnley, the total reduced by only 27 from 2,460 to 2,433 as the borough continued to feel the pain of Shop Direct’s decision to close its call centre with the loss of 420 jobs.

The Office of National Statistics also released figures for the quarter ending November 2009 showing the number of people out of work and claiming all benefits, including JSA, incapacity benefit and top-ups for lone parents.

In East Lancashire, that number reduced from 54,100 to 53,410.

However, the ONS figures paint a bleak picture of parts of East Lancashire’s dependency on benefits.

According to the November 2009 figures, 19.8 per cent of Burnley’s working age population are on out-of-work benefits, while in Blackburn with Darwen the figure is 19.5 per cent.

That compares to a North West average of 16.4 per cent and a UK figure of just 13.4 per cent.

National figures released showed 2.5million people are now out of work in Britain - the highest figure since 1994.

The ONS said 8.17million are classed as economically inactive, a record high.