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There are 82,000 more people at work in the south west than a year ago, new figures show. Nationally, unemployment fell by 383,000, the biggest annual fall for nearly two decades.

Employment minister Esther McVey said: “With 82,000 more people in work in the South West compared to last year and the highest female employment rate of all the regions, the resilience of the country during the downturn is being rewarded.”