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'Still much to be done, despite jobs boost'
A LEADING councillor has warned there is no room for complacency as figures showed almost 75 per cent of adults in Darlington are in employment.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the borough's employment rate for April 2013 to March this year stands at 74.3 per cent, a figure only fractionally short of the pre-recession rate of 74.6 per cent.
These figures mean Darlington has the highest employment rate in the region, as well as being higher than the national average.
Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: "The employment rate has been growing for some time now, and I think it is really positive news.
"It is not the whole story, however, as while we have had a lot of success, there is still more work to be done.
"These figures really vindicate our strategy of trying to attract businesses to Darlington."
Cllr McEwan pointed to the ongoing development of the council's flagship Central Park project, which will support hundreds of jobs, including the government-funded National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which is being built by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).
He added: "There is much more still to do and that work will centre around supporting CPI and the developing technology sector.
"We have got to keep up our efforts, to ensure there is a broad range of employment opportunities in Darlington.
"My summary report card would say that this is good news, but we can't stop here."
The ONS figures show Darlington's unemployment rate for the same period stands at 9.1 per cent, lower than the regional average of 9.4 per cent.
However, the figure is still higher than the pre-recession rate and higher than the national average of 6.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance is also falling, with 3.6 per cent of Darlington residents claiming the benefit in July, according to the ONS.
This remains higher than pre-recession levels, but is an improvement on recent years, when the figure has been closer to six per cent.
Cllr McEwan added: "Statistics only tell part of the story, but these are positive indicators that we are getting it right.
"The North-East is a great place to live and to do business, but complacency is the enemy of progress."
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