Latest unemployment figures released on Tuesday show a slight drop in the number of people claiming out of work benefits in Dumfries and Galloway, however, the figure is still a huge increase on what it was a year ago.

In September 2020, 4,825 people claimed out of work benefits in the region, slightly down on August (5,010). The September figure represents 5.5 per cent of the working age population claiming out of work benefits.

However, the picture is dramatically different when you compare the situation with September 2019, where the figure stood at 2,670 (3.1 per cent).

Colin Smyth said: “The easing of lockdown in the summer where some people returned to work, but most remained on furlough, and we were all encouraged to go back to pubs and restaurants with the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, seems to have put a temporary hold on further rises in unemployment during the summer.

“But sadly, it’s widely recognised that this is very much the calm before the storm and the full impact of coronavirus on employment as the furlough scheme eventually comes to an end has yet to be felt.

“The level of unemployment is already almost twice that of a year ago, but all the projections are that it will be dramatically higher over the next six to nine months and we are set for a level of joblessness we’ve not seen since the ‘90s.

“That’s why we need the Government at all levels to do everything they can to support those who do face unemployment because behind these numbers are local people who have lost their livelihoods.”

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