THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits has fallen as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Data from the Office for National Statistics data shows 4,330 people in Braintree were claiming out-of-work benefits as of mid-May, down from 4,730 in April.

It means 4.7 per cent of Braintree's working-age population sought support in May – down from 5.1 per cent the previous month.

And it was also 740 fewer than the number of claimants recorded in May last year.

The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

Read more:

This period covers the reopening of outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail for the first time since December.

The ONS said the number of payrolled employees jumped by almost 200,000 in May – a record monthly rise – but remains more than half a million below pre-pandemic levels.

Figures also show that 610 fewer men in Braintree were receiving support, compared to 125 fewer women.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said: “Job vacancies continued to recover in the spring, and our early estimates suggest that, by May, the total had surpassed its pre-pandemic level, with strong growth in sectors such as hospitality.

"Meanwhile the redundancy rate remains subdued, while the number of employees on furlough has continued to decline."