Shock new unemployment figures reveal the true extent of Derry’s economic woes.
The city has not only the highest rate of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) across all 406 UK local council areas, it also has both the highest UK rate of youth and long term unemployment according to the Office of National Statistics. And the February figures further reveal Derry also has the highest rate of both men and women claiming JSA.
SDLP candidate for Derry and Strabane District Council Rory Farrell said the figures make uncomfortable reading.
“These startling figures reveal the true extent of the jobs crisis engulfing Derry and the wider North West. Being top of one of these league tables is a travesty, but being top of all five is truly shocking.
“We knew that Derry was the unemployment capital of the north, but the revelation that we have the highest jobless rate not only at home but across England, Scotland and Wales should serve as a huge wake-up call for the decision makers in Stormont,” he said.
The figures reveal 8.6% of the city’s working-age population currently claim JSA, Strabane is in second place with 7.6% and Kingston Upon Hull is third with 7.1%.
Derry has the highest rate of men claiming JSA with 12.2% ahead of Belfast (10.5%) and Strabane (10.3%) and the highest rate of women claimants (5.1%) ahead of Wolverhampton (4.9%) and Strabane (4.8%.)
A total of 14% of Derry’s 18-24 year-olds are claiming JSA - that’s ahead of Hartlepool and Great Yarmouth while Derry and Strabane jointly top the table with 3% of the working age population claiming JSA for more than 12 months.
Mr Farrell said the onus was now on Stormont to take the lead in “ stimulating growth in the economy.”
He said the “failure of the Sinn Féin/DUP-controlled Executive to prioritise projects that will economically benefit the North West has left the people of Derry feeling abandoned.
“There needs to be a focus on delivering projects that will make high quality job creation a reality. For Derry to attract investors there must be serious financial commitment from Stormont.
“Magee expansion must be accelerated, improvements to the A5, A6 and to our rail connections must be given priority while regeneration at Fort George and Ebrington must be fast-tracked,” he said.