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Latest Unemployment Statistics - December 2005

30th January 2006

The methodology used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to calculate unemployment rates has been changed. The new method expresses the number of claimants as a percentage of the estimated population of working age residents in an area. The population of working age is defined as those aged 16 to 59 for women and 16 to 64 for men.

The population of working age residents has been derived from the 2001 Census data. All of the figures in this update adopt the new methodology. On average the new proportions are around a fifth smaller than the traditional rates, but there are variations around this (comparable figures are not available for previous years). The 2001 figures have been used to calculate unemployment rates for 2002 and 2003. These rates will be amended on release of new population estimates from the GRO(s).

SUMMARY
The December 2005 unemployment figures were released on 18th January 2006. During the month, November 2005 to December 2005, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Great Britain rose by 2.1%, from 847,820 to 865,512 (17,692 claimants). This figure is higher than the same period last year, where the number of claimants stood at 782,349, an increase of 83,163 claimants.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Scotland also rose during the month, rising 1.0%, from 82,827 to 83,628 (801 claimants). This figure is lower than the same period last year, a decrease of 2.8% (2,415 claimants).

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the HIE area also increased during the month, rising 7.6% from 5,738 to 6,176 (438 claimants). This figure is lower than the same period last year, where the total claimants stood at 6,401, a decrease of 3.5% (225 claimants).

UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
The table below illustrates the claimant count rates for December 2005, using the 1998 TTWAs (Travel-To-Work-Areas). The claimant count rates are compared with November 2005 and December 2004 to highlight the monthly and annual changes. The TTWAs are ranked in descending order by the December 2005 figure.

1998 TTWAs December 2005 (%) November 2005 (%) December 2004 (%)
Wick 3.9 4.0 4.2
Dunoon & Rothesay 3.6 3.4 3.6
Sutherland 3.5 3.3 3.9
Lewis & Harris 3.2 3.0 3.7
Uists & Barra 3.2 2.8 3.7
Skye & Ullapool 3.1 2.6 3.6
Campbeltown 2.8 2.8 3.9
Keith & Buckie 2.8 2.6 2.4
Lochaber 2.7 2.4 2.4
Thurso 2.5 2.5 2.5
Dingwall 2.4 2.3 2.6
Argyll Islands 2.2 2.1 2.9
Lochgilphead 2.2 2.0 2.4
Oban 2.2 2.0 2.1
Elgin & Forres 2.1 1.8 1.6
Bad & Strathspey 2.0 1.8 2.4
Inverness 1.9 1.8 2.0
Dufftown 1.9 1.5 2.3
Shetland Isles 1.7 1.7 1.6
Orkney Islands 1.4 1.3 1.5
HIE Area 2.4 2.2 2.5
Highland Council Area 2.4 2.2 2.5
Scotland 2.6 2.6 2.7
GB 2.4 2.4 2.2
Source: Office for National Statistics (NOMIS)

Over the month to December 2005, the claimant count rates rose in 16 TTWA areas, fell in 1 Wick and was static in the remaining 3 Campbeltown, Thurso and Shetland Isles. Skye & Ullapool had the greatest increase over the month, rising 0.5% from 2.6% to 3.1%.

Over the year to December 2005, the claimant count rates decreased in 13 TTWAs, rose in 5 and was static in the remaining 2 Dunoon & Rothesay and Thurso. Elgin & Forres had the greatest increase over the year, rising 0.5% from 1.6% to 2.1%.

Campbeltown had the greatest decrease over the year, falling 1.1% from 3.9% to 2.8%.

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