AFTER a devastating start to the new year for hundreds of Isle of Wight workers who find their livelihoods under threat, latest job figures reveal a picture of rising unemployment on the Island.
The release of December’s job figures today (Wednesday) have capped a difficult year when Isle of Wight unemployment has run higher each month than the same period in 2011.
It is a situation which is unlikely to improve, with the body blow that Camp Hill prison is to close, putting 400 jobs under threat, and further redundancies confirmed at Liz Earle, Artigiano, Seaward Marine, Isle of Wight Studio Glass and Jessops.
There are also fears for the future of jobs at Blockbuster, which went into administration and announced plans to close 129 stores across the UK.
The closures will be in addition to 31 stores that were already due to close, including Cowes. Blockbuster has three other shops on the Island in Ryde, Shanklin and Newport.
Office of National Statistics figures showed the proportion of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) on the Island never fell below the south east average in 2012, even during the peak holiday season.
Figures revealed that in January 2012, 3,965 people claimed JSA — 400 more than in January 2011 — rising to a yearly high of 4,080 in February, compared to 3,690 the previous year, and more than two per cent higher than the regional average.
Unemployment fell below the national average in April, but with 3,300 people still out of work, the level was much higher than the previous year when 2,965 claimed the benefit.
While summer brought the usual seasonal dip in unemployment, levels of unemployment were higher than 2011.
Figures for July show 2,930 people claimed JSA compared to 2,720 in 2011, while 2,955 claimed the benefit in August compared to 2,820 the previous year.
In both months the proportion of people out of work was around one per cent higher than the south east average and just 0.3 per cent below the national average.
While unemployment continued to fall nationally and across the south east towards the end of 2012, it began to rise again on the Isle of Wight and today’s figures for December show 3,700 people were out of work compared to 3,665 in 2011.
Youth unemployment — 18-24 year olds — in 2012 fared slightly better with levels starting to fall towards the end of year.
However, the proportion of young people out of work never fell below the national average and in February was more than double the south east average — 12.7 per cent compared to just 5.7 per cent regionally.
Statistics show, however, that levels were lower between September and December than the same period in 2011.