LARNE’S unemployment rate fell slightly in April, in line with trends across Northern Ireland.
The number jobless locally had reduced by 29 since March, but the total of 857 people in the borough claiming unemployment benefit was up by 80 on a year ago, representing a 10.3 per cent annual increase.
The local 4.2 per cent jobless rate is one of the lowest in the Province and the regional rate for the first quarter of 2012 was 6.7 per cent, comparing favourably with 8.2 per cent for the United Kingdom.
The number of younger people signing on continues to give cause for concern. A third of new Larne claimants in April were aged 16-24 years and the borough already has above-average youth unemployment, currently 31.5 per cent as opposed to 28.7 per cent in Northern Ireland as a whole, although there has been a slight improvement of 1.9 per cent year on year.
At the other end of the age range, Larne now has the highest percentage of people aged 50-and-over out of work, at 22 per cent.
In common with most parts, the local jobless rate has more than doubled since 2007, when it was 1.8 per cent, rising to 3.8 per cent last year and now almost half-a-per-cent higher.