THE North-East remains the UK’s jobless hotspot, but “things are moving in the right direction” and the region now has a record number of women in work, it was today (Wednesday, December 13) claimed.

Latest statistics released today show the region’s employment rate has held steady, with 1.22 million people in work between August and October.

Unemployment was relatively steady, standing at 77,000 or 5.9 per cent, though the latter number meant the region had the UK’s worst jobless rate.

However, Carol Daniell, an employer and partnership manager at Jobcentre Plus, told The Northern Echo that the picture was improving.

Highlighting the rise in female employment, which has been helped by Consett-based caravan maker Elddis, Ms Daniell added the claimant count across Darlington and Durham has also dropped over the last five years.

She said: “Things are moving in the right direction.

“We have more jobs available and are actively supporting people to access them.

“The jobs are across a real broad range of sectors and businesses are now looking to recruit in January and onwards.

“Female employment is at a record high and Elddis is looking to run an all-female training course with us in January because they have been so impressed with the workers they already have.”

Nationally, figures showed the number of people in work fell by 56,000 in recent months, which was the biggest quarterly drop in more than two years.

According to the statistics, there are more than 32 million people in employment, with unemployment down by 26,000 to 1.4 million.