1,348 out of work locally

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The number of people registering as out of work in Ballymena saw a slight increase in December, up by eight claimants.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Enterprise, the claimant count in the borough now stands at 1,348 compared to 1,340 the previous month.

Wards within the borough registering the most claimant counts for unemployment in December were Ballee with 108 (108 in November), Castle Demesne with 104 (100 November), and Dunclug with 94 (106 the previous month).

The ward with the lowest claimant was Ballyloughan with 18 (down one on November).

Province-wide, the new official figures confirmed that unemployment has been falling continuously for two years. Last month, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell again by 900 to stand at just over 50,000. The NI employment rate is below the UK average of 73% and is the lowest rate among the 12 UK regions.