JUST a month after Worcester's low jobless figures were praised by the Prime Minister, those searching for work in the city has risen.

The number of Worcester residents claiming Jobseeker's Allowance is up month-on-month for the first time in almost a year according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In December 2013, 1,733 people picked up the benefit in Worcester, up from 1,692 the previous month.

This is the first month-on-month rise since February last year although the number is more than 300 down on December 2012.

The latest figures represent 2.6 per cent of the working age population, the national average being 2.9 per cent.

Worcester MP Robin Walker voiced concern at the numbers.

"Nobody wants to see any increase in unemployment and even though these figures are relatively small, they are concerning," he said.

"I want Worcester to be a city of very low unemployment and I want to see job opportunities maximised.

"The announcement of a potential major investment in Worcester by Waitrose (as reported by your Worcester News yesterday) is a welcome sign of confidence in the city as a place to do business but it is clear that central government and local government need to do everything they can to support businesses.”

A Worcester-based recruitment firm, meanwhile, says it is not surprising to see a rise in Jobseeker's Allowance claimants at Christmas.

"People may think that they will leave it (looking for a job) until the new year," said Ben Mannion, strategic development director at Hewett Recruitment on Foregate Street in Worcester.

"But businesses that we've spoken to are positive and confident.

"There are certain skill shortages in areas like IT and engineering."

Just last month, Worcester's strong jobless figures were praised by David Cameron in the House of Commons when he said the numbers were "welcome news".

Worcestershire County Council said it remains "optimistic" about the county's economy.

"Our programme of support through Worcestershire.Business.Central, which offers practical, straight forward support and funding, will continue to help businesses through start-up and support developing companies grow," said Simon Geraghty, the council's deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure.