Derry has half of north’s top ten dole blackspots

Half of the north’s top ten dole blackspots are in Derry, a new report reveals.

The scale of the unemployment crisis in the city is revealed in the latest Labour Market Bulletin, released on Tuesday by Stormont’s Department of Education and Learning (DEL).

Strabane and Limavady also feature prominently on a list of the ten electoral wards with the highest proportion of dole claimants.

Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson says the shock statistics show the urgent need to have the north’s regional inequalities addressed immediately.

The DEL statistics reveal the East ward of Strabane, where 16.1% of the working population were on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) as of August 2010, tops the list - followed by Derry’s Rosemount (15.9%), Diamond (15.8), Strand (15.1) and Creggan South (13.7) wards.

Derry’s Victoria ward, where 12.2% of people of working age claim the dole comes in at number 8 on the list of the north’s dole blackspots, while Limavady’s Greystone (13%) and Dungiven (12.1%) wards round off the eight north west wards on the list.

Belfast’s Falls and Water Works wards complete the ten wards with the highest proportion of JSA claimants.

Worst hit

The figures further suggest that in the worst hit areas of Derry around a quarter of all men of working age are currently signing on.

Ms Anderson says the figures may not reveal the full extent of Derry poverty levels.

“The fact is that the economic inactivity rate in Derry is a matter of huge concern because it is a strong indicator of what is really happening with employment,” she says.

The Sinn Fein MLA says addressing historical regional disparities should be a priority for Stormont’s politicians.

“It was one of the reasons we started the Stand up for Derry campaign. It is why Sinn Fein continues to prioritise redressing regional inequalities and challenge the historical reluctance of Belfast-based civil servants to deliver for this region. It is why our ministers are putting unprecedented levels of investment into the North West.

“This high level of economic inactivity hides the true cost of poverty that exists not just in specific geographical areas but also within vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, young people, the long term unemployed and lone parent families.

“It’s obvious that the economy here requires focused attention or unemployment levels will continue to rise. Sinn Féin has taken the lead in demanding fiscal autonomy so that we can better plan our own recovery based on an island of Ireland economy.”

Highest level

Last month the Journal revealed unemployment in Derry is now at its highest level since January 1999.

A total of 5,464 people, or 7.6% of the city’s working age population, are currently out of work.

Derry has the highest rate of unemployment amongst the North’s 26 local councils, with Strabane second and Limavady third.

Over the past year unemployment in Derry has risen by 8.8%.