Unemployment has reached the 7,000 mark in Cumbria after another sizeable rise in claims during February.

According to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 115 more people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance or received support through Universal Credit to seek work in the county last month compared to the revised figure of 6,885 for January.

The rise also nudged up the proportion of Cumbria’s working age population seeking work from 2.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent – although it remains below the national average of 3 per cent and well below the North West average of 3.7 per cent.

The figures mark a continuation of Cumbria’s bad start to 2020 – and a bad start for the Carlisle district, which bore the brunt of the county’s increase.

In February, 85 new claims were made taking the total to 1,705 and representing 2.6 per cent of the district’s working age population.

There was also a sizeable increase in Eden, where 55 more claims took its total to 520, but represents just 1.7 per cent of its working age population.

An increase in 20 claims was reported in South Lakeland and 15 in Copeland, taking their totals to 665 (1.1 per cent) and 1,250 (3 per cent) respectively.

While Copeland sits on the national average, Barrow remains the only Cumbrian district to be above it at 3.1 per cent.

This is despite a drop of 45 claims made in February, taking its total to 1,250.

Allerdale also reported a drop, with 15 fewer claims made and a total of 1,610 (2.8 per cent).

Meanwhile, there were 386 young people called as NEET (not in education, employment, or training), a drop in the figures for December.

There was also a 153 increase in the number of job postings to 2,953 in February.

Nationally, unemployment rose by 5,000 to 1.34 million in the three months to January according to figures from the ONS – the first recorded rise since the early summer of 2012.

Another record high level of employment was set, with 183,000 more people in work during the same period – taking the total workforce to 32.99m.

Head of labour market statistics at the ONS, David Freeman, added: “Vacancies have continued to rise after recent falls, with more now than at any time in the last six months.”