The latest official figures show unemployment in the South West has increased by 11.5% to 165,000 in the three months to February.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 17,000 more people were unemployed in the region during the period.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance increased by 2,400 in January to 1.46 million, with the number of female claimants rising for the seventh month in a row to reach almost 450,000, the highest figure since 1996.
The number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs increased by 44,000 to 1.19 million, the highest total since records began in 1992.
Ministers said they welcomed news that the labour market was “stabilising” after a “difficult” last few months, pointing out that there has been a sharp jump in the number of vacancies to half a million across the country, the highest in two years.
Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling said: “It’s been a difficult few months in the labour market but things do now seem to be stabilising. The rise in the number of vacancies is particularly encouraging.”
The dole queue in the Westcountry increased slightly during December as youth unemployment remained stubbornly high.
Some 27,014 people in December claimed jobless benefits in Devon and Cornwall, or around 2.6 per cent of the working population.
The December claimant count increased by around 3 per cent, or 826 people, compared to the previous month across the two counties. But around 8,400 of those on the dole – or around one-third – are aged 18-24 years.
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