Small rises in local jobless figures have been blamed on how they are calculated.

There remains grounds for optimism and fast growing towns like Colchester will continue producing more jobs.

Dave Cope, Essex Operations Manager for Jobcentre Plus, said the latest tiny increases are no cause for concern.

The local figures have contrasted with national results, which revealed dole queues at their shortest for more than 40 years.

Total unemployment fell by 31,000 in the three months to January to 1.58 million, the lowest for a decade. They gave a jobless rate of 4.7 per cent, the lowest since the summer of 1975.

Nationally, nearly 32 million were in work during the quarter, an increase of 92,000 on the previous three months and 315,000 higher than a year before.

The narrower count of those eligible to claim unemployment-related benefits, including Jobseeker’s Allowance and those on Universal Credit required to seek work fell on a seasonally-adjusted basis by 11,300 last month to 734,700, the lowest since May 1975.

Unadjusted for seasonal trends, however the claimant count grew nationally by nearly 30,000 to 803, 580 with north Essex following the trend.

The biggest increases- driving the rate up 0.1 per cent- came in Braintree (up 55 to 1,085 or 1.2 per cent) and Chelmsford, up 40 to 1,245 (also 1.2 per cent).

Smaller increases saw rates remain unchanged in Colchester (up 20 to 1,380 or 1.2 per cent) and Tendring up 20 to 2,255 (2.9 per cent).

Mr Cope put the “small increases” down to how Universal Credit, which is given to some part-timers on low incomes, is used to compile the figures.

He said: “Increasing numbers of people who are working are counted as unemployed which they are not.”

But he said the new way of counting is seen as more accurate.

Mr Cope continued: “The national unemployment figure is at a 12-year low for the number in unemployment. Colchester, Braintree, North Essex. These are growing towns with buoyant labour markets and lots of opportunities.

“We see evidence in the office every day, with employers coming in to see us with lots of opportunities for people.”

Looking ahead, Mr Cope expected further growth in jobs due to seasonal booms in hospitality, and while Tendring differs from the rest of the North Essex job market, it too should benefit from a summer boom in tourism.

“I see the ongoing debate about the growth of hospitality in Colchester. The reality is the demand is there. Employers are coming to us. Some 2-3, including Miller and Carter steakhouses, are looking to open new outlets. It’s a vote of confidence in the town.”

“Tendring’s holiday parks have lots of opportunities. People are moving into these jobs now.”

He added: “There’s plenty of grounds to be optimistic especially in Colchester and Chelmsford.”