The number of people claiming unemployment benefits across Bradford fell by more than 600 last month, although the district still has the highest percentage of jobseekers in West Yorkshire, new figures have revealed.

Results from the Government's latest labour market survey, published yesterday, showed that 15,628 people claimed Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA) across the district in May, 617 fewer than April, a drop of four per cent.

This leaves 4.7 per cent of those eligible still claiming the benefit, the highest figure in West Yorkshire, above the county average of 3.8 per cent and the UK average of 2.7 per cent.

Alison France, employer and partnership manager for Jobcentre Plus in West Yorkshire, attributed the reduction in claims to a number of initiatives proving successful across the Bradford district.

"We are working very closely with the local authority and the district's employers to try and provide the best people for each individual looking for work," she said.

"We are mainly targeting 18 to 24 year olds, but it is vitally important to offer opportunities for all."

Of the 617 people who left JSA last month, almost half, 290, were aged 18 to 24, with many involved in schemes linked to Jobcentre Plus such as the Local Employment Opportunities Fund and Sector-based Work Academies, programmes offering a mixture of training and work experience with local employers.

But Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council's executive member for employment and skills, expressed concern that the number of people claiming JSA was not falling in line with the national average.

"The challenge in Bradford is that we have one of the highest populations of young people in the country and therefore jobs have to be created at a faster rate here than in other cities," she said.

"We're doing well with local programmes like Get Bradford Working, and Westfield will provide 2,000 jobs, but these new figures show it's a very unequal economic recovery and there's still a lot to do."

Each parliamentary constituency across Bradford saw a reduction in the number of people making JSA claims, and MP David Ward said he was "confident unemployment would continue to fall" in Bradford East after seeing the number of claimants drop by 198 to a three-year low of 4,490.

A drop of 75 people, or 4.4 per cent, claiming JSA in Keighley was welcomed by MP Kris Hopkins, who said the latest figures represented a downward trend in unemployment that "seems set to continue."

Nationally, the number of people claiming JSA dropped to just under 1.1million, down 406,300 compared to a year ago, the largest annual fall since 1998.