1,061 now out of work in Ballymena area

First raft of JTI staff set to leave factory in May. (Editorial Image).
First raft of JTI staff set to leave factory in May. (Editorial Image).

The number of people registering as out of work in Ballymena saw a slight increase in the past month, up 23 claimants.

According to the latest Economic and Labour Market Statistics from the Department of Enterprise, the local claimant count now stands at 1,061 compared to 1,038 in February.

Wards registering the most claimants for unemployment were Ballee with 90, a non-mover from February (90); Dunclug with 84, up 11 month on month (73 in February); and, Ballykeel with 75 claimants, down three from February (78).

The ward with the lowest claimant count was Slemish with 11, down two from February.

A more dramatic rise in local unemployment statistics is, however, expected from May when some two-thirds of staff at JTI Gallaher are due to leave the Ballymena factory.

Of the 870 people employed at the Lisnafillan plant, 550 are expected to leave in May with a further 260 being released in December 2016/January 2017.

Meanwhile, the number of people registering as out of work in Antrim saw an increase in the past month, up 24 claimants.

The local claimant count now stands at 822 compared to 798 in February.

Wards registering the most claimant counts for unemployment were Drumanaway with 89 (73 in February); Springfarm with 80 (86 in February); and Fountain Hill with 5 (56).

The wards with the lowest number of claimants were Templepatrick with 18 claimants (16 in January), Shilvodan with 21 (22 in February), and Toome with 22 (21).

Province-wide, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has, according to the latest figures, increased by 200 over the past month to a total of 38,600 in March.