UNEMPLOYMENT levels in Salisbury are lower than the national average and the average in the south west, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The figures show that, from April 2012 to March 2013, 81.2 per cent of people in Salisbury were in employment and just 3.4 per cent were unemployed, compared with 5.3 per cent unemployed in Wiltshire and six per cent in the south west.

The south west region has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Nationally, 7.8 per cent of the population is unemployed.

The new data also shows that only 1.8 per cent of the city’s population were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, while two per cent were claiming in Wiltshire and 2.7 per cent in the south west.

In the latest quarter for which figures have been published - April to June 2013 - unemployment rates in the south west started to drop after rising in the previous quarter.

Figures for youth unemployment show that from April to June last year the number of 16 and 17 year olds not in work rose by 37.8 per cent compared to the previous year. In the 25 to 34 year old age category there was a fall in unemployment of 30.6 per cent on the same period in the previous year, but the 34 to 49 and 50 to 64 year old groups saw unemployment increase by 20.7 per cent and 27.2 per cent respectively.

Nationally, the number of people in work rose by 193,000 in the quarter and a record-breaking number of women - 67.2 per cent - are now in work, which is the highest number since records began.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “With employment continuing to increase, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term plan to build a stronger, more secure economy is helping businesses create jobs and get people into work.

“Record numbers of women are in work and youth unemployment continues to fall, which means more people have the security of a regular wage and can plan for their future."