Cumbria has seen a second consecutive hike in unemployment, with 85 more claims made in December.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 5,940 people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit last month – another significant rise on the revised figures for October of 5,855.

It is the second month the county has seen a sizeable rise, with 120 more claims made back in November compared to the previous month and means that two per cent of the population is recorded as unemployed.

South Lakeland saw the biggest hike, with 45 more claims made, although the total of 370 represents just 0.6 per cent of the district’s population.

Carlisle again was hit hard, with 30 more claims made compared to the previous month, representing 1.9 per cent of the population.

A total of 1,235 are now unemployed in the district, which has seen a 100 increase in claims in the past two months.

Allerdale also saw an increase of 15, taking the total to 1,720 (three per cent) while Eden saw a rise of just five, taking the total to 325 (one per cent).

The figures for Copeland remained the same at 1,325 (3.2 per cent) while Barrow saw a drop of 10, with a total of 965 (2.3 per cent).

The continued rise is partly down to the shift to Universal Credit, which meant that some people would be recorded in the figures despite being in some form of work.

The controversial Universal Credit system has now been rolled out across all of Cumbria’s Jobcentre Plus offices.

However, while some are now fully on Universal Credit, others are still claiming “legacy” benefits, which include Jobseekers Allowance along with working tax and child tax credits.

Unemployment in the North West stands at four per cent, with just over 75 per cent of the population in some form of work, according to the ONS.

Nationally, there were an estimated 1.37 million unemployed people recorded between September and November and an estimated 32.53m people in work for the same period, representing an estimated 75.8 per cent of the population – the highest since comparable estimates began in 1971.

The ONS’ head of labour market David Freeman said: “The share of the workforce looking for work and unable to find it remains at its lowest for over 40 years, helped by a record number of job vacancies.

“Wage growth continues to outpace inflation, which fell back slightly in the latest month.”

In response, Jon Boys, labour market economist at the CIPD, said while the UK labour market remained “robust” the figures for September to November were “halcyon days” when Government guidance was that a no deal Brexit was unlikely.

He added: “The figures can be seen as good news for employees as the tight labour market is feeding into real pay growth.

"With inflation forecast to be lower than previously expected pay growth is likely to continue into 2019.

“In the absence of productivity growth to fund it, paying staff more is a strategy that can’t be used indefinitely.

"Businesses should consider retention and training of their current workforce to raise productivity and fill skills gaps.”