Unemployment has fallen in Cumbria – breaking a run of six months of consecutive rises.

The latest release of data from the Office for National Statistics, found that 6,495 claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance or received support through Universal Credit to seek work in May – a fall of 50 compared to the revised figure for April, which stood at 6,545.

The fall follows a rapid growth in the number of claims over the last six months, with has seen more than 700 more claims made and the proportion of the county’s population seeking work rise to 2.2 per cent.

May saw a mixed bag for the county’s six districts.

Allerdale saw a drop of 75 new claims made, taking the total to 1,630 and equating to 2.8 per cent of the district’s population.

Neighbouring Copeland also saw a drop, with 30 less claims made, taking the total to 1,285 (3.1 per cent) while Carlisle saw a fall of 25, taking the total claims made to 1,470 (2.2 per cent).

Barrow saw by far the biggest rise. During May, 50 more claims were made, taking the total to 1,175. 

It means that 2.9 per cent of the district’s population was classed out of work, putting it, along with Allerdale and Copeland, above the national average of 2.7 per cent.

However, all of Cumbria's districts lie below the average for the North West, which stands at 3.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, South Lakeland and Eden both saw slight rises of 15, taking the totals to 540 (0.9 per cent) and 395 (1.3 per cent) respectively.

The rises are, in the main, due to the ongoing switch to the controversial Universal Credit system.

And while all of Cumbria’s Jobcentre Plus offices have moved on to the Universal Credit system, the full rollout is expected to take another four years.

Nationally, unemployment remains at a record low, falling by 34,000 to 1.3 million in the three months to April.

Real wage growth, however, continues to remain flat, according to latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Its deputy head of labour market statistics Matt Hughes said: “Overall, the labour market continues to be strong, with employment still at a joint record rate. 

However, while the number of vacancies remains high, it has fallen back slightly from the historic highs seen at the turn of the year.

“With employment growth among women coming from full-timers, the overall gap between men and women in hours worked is now the lowest ever – women now average about three-quarters of men’s weekly hours, compared with around two-thirds 25 years ago.”