THERE has been a slight drop in the number of unemployed people in Worcester latest statistics show.

But the comparison to a year ago shows more than double are out of work.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest figures reveal the number of unemployed people in the Worcester constituency in January was at 3,505.

This is down from December's figure of 3,610, and from the figure six months ago, when it was at 3,770 last July.

But a year ago, in January 2020, the figure was at 1,705 showing the rise in unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "Any drop is welcome.

"But these are still very high numbers considering there was a period of years it was bumping along close to 1,000.

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"That's what we want to get back to. It is really important we get the economy back open again so that the job opportunities can be created.

"Many businesses have done an incredible job through this, furlough has played a huge part. The government is supporting business.

"Those businesses who have seen it through this far are more likely to be able to come out the other side and take people back on.

"What is undoubtedly true is we are going to need new jobs created, not just resumption of old ones.

"Sadly some of the big retail businesses we have seen fall along the way, they are not going to come back, so we need to make sure we create new jobs and investment in the city."

The ONS data shows a similar trend for the constituency of Mid-Worcestershire, which includes Droitwich and Evesham residents.

There were 2,725 people out of work in January, down from 2,785 in December but more than double the 1,090 of January 2020.

And in the West Worcestershire constituency, which includes Malvern, 2,375 people were out of work in January, down from 2,445 in December, but again more double than the 995 of January 2020.

Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, said: "I am very concerned about the economic impact the pandemic is having on businesses and individuals in my constituency.

"I have an enormous amount of sympathy for anyone who finds themselves without work and although it’s good news that unemployment numbers are slightly down in the last month they are significantly up year-on-year. This is why we must start to open up the economy and move to a sustainable recovery.

"I am, however, encouraged that the government has provided unprecedented support for the economy during this crisis, providing £160 billion of support for individuals and businesses at this extremely difficult time and strengthening the safety net of the welfare system to support the most vulnerable."

Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said: “Today’s job figures have highlighted the economic impact of the pandemic – the worst economic shock for 300 years.

"The chancellor has provided unprecedented levels of support for families and businesses and he has a budget next week.

“Now that we can see a clear path to reopening the economy after vaccinating the most vulnerable, I am sure there will be many local industries recruiting.

"There are 600,000 vacancies in the economy, construction jobs are back at levels last seen a year ago and the local jobcentre is delivering the plan for jobs, with kickstart thriving, new youth hubs, a refreshed support offer for the over 50s and more work coaches.“