MORE than twice as many people in Dorset were unemployed in last month as in 2020 – and young people were the hardest-hit.

There were 14,814 people out of work and claiming benefits in the BCP Council area in April, up 126 per cent on last year.

In the Dorset Council area, the figure was 9,386 – up 133 per cent year-on-year.

Among people aged 18-24, joblessness was up 144 per cent to 2,369 in the BCP area and up 187 per cent to 1,706 in the rest of the county.

In the New Forest, the number of unemployment rose 139 per cent to 4,062, while the figure for 18-24 year-olds rose 211 per cent to 731. The figures come from the government’s “alternative claimant count” of people out of work while claiming Universal Credit.

But there were signs of improvement, with the national unemployment rate falling slightly from January to March.

Andy Sherman, employer and partnership manager for the Department of Work and Pensions in Hampshire and Dorset, said: “We’re seeing vacancies start to improve, especially in the hospitality sector as they recruit to full those roles prior to reopening.”

More than twice as many people are unemployed in Dorset

He said the department doubled its number of work coaches to 27,000 by March 2021.

The Kickstart Scheme is providing six-month placements for young people at risk of long-term unemployment, with the government covering the cost of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week.

“Younger people are disproportionately impacted by redundancies in the pandemic because they tend to be more represented in the hospitality and leisure industries,” said Mr Sherman.

Youth unemployment more than trebles in Dorset

The government is making available £150milion so Jobcentres can provide tailored support for their local communities and provide a rapid response to large local redundancies.

Nationally, the rate of unemployment fell slightly between January and March to 4.8 per cent and the number of workers on payrolls rose by 97,000 from March to April.

However, unemployment is expected to rise as employers are required to contribute to the costs of the furlough scheme. The scheme is due to end entirely at the end of September.

The Bank of England expects unemployment to peak at 5.5 per cent, rather than the 7.75 per cent previously forecast.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said yesterday: “Protecting and creating jobs continues to be my top priority.

“While sadly not every job can be saved, nearly two million fewer people are now expected to be out of work than initially expected – showing our Plan for Jobs is working.”

But Samuel Tombs, at economic research consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “While most furloughed staff will return to their former roles, a significant minority won’t, especially in sectors such as retail where over-employment is rife.

“We expect redundancies to pick up again from July, when employers will have to cover 10 per cent of the missing wages of any furloughed staff, and then jump in September, the final month of the scheme.”