ST HELENS has been a slight increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits compared with 12 months ago.

In the latest quarterly figures released this week, the borough had 4,400 people for May 2019.

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This signifies a rise of 98 from the same time last year, but is a 28 per cent reduction on five years ago.

Meanwhile, among young people (18 to 24) there were 854 claimants, a 38 per cent decrease on 2014.

Figures measure the number of people on benefits and look at what would have been the case had Universal Credit been in place five years ago.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 per cent as expected, which is the joint-lowest number since the three months to January 1975.

However, the growth in employment slowed to 28,000, the weakest increase since the three months up to August last year.

Gemma Batchelor, from JobCentre Plus, said: "This is a really strong decrease with 1,717 less claimants (in St Helens) than five years ago.

"In St Helens there have been some new business leads with NW Synergy LMS now located in the town (Mere Grange).

"The main areas recruiting are warehousing, logistics, the care sector to demonstrate the local labour market.

"A few more employers have been in the job centre such as Challenge recruitment for warehouse operators for the distribution centre in Lea Green

"Vital People have been looking at warehouse operators in Sutton and British Car Auctions for drivers."