Published: 09:30, 12 April 2017
| Updated: 09:49, 12 April 2017
The number of people on the dole in Kent grew for the third straight month as the rollout of universal credit continued.
The introduction of the benefit, which also includes people in the early stages of work, meant there were another 485 people on unemployment-related benefits in the county.
It brings the county’s total claimant count to 19,610.
Every district in the county recorded an increase for the second consecutive month.
The largest increase was in Medway, up 85, to 3,525, followed by Dover, up 65 to 1,555, and Maidstone and Swale, both up 60 to 1,345 and 2,060 respectively.
The South East had the UK’s lowest unemployment rate 3.4%, despite the number of people out of work growing by 1,000 to 158,000 in the three months to February.
That is 22,000 lower than the same time a year ago.
Nationally, there were 1.56 million unemployed people over the period, 45,000 fewer than for September to November.
The unemployment rate was 4.7%, its lowest level since 1975.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, who is Ashford’s MP, said: “This is yet another strong set of figures, with unemployment at a rate that hasn’t been beaten since the 1970s and more vacancies than ever before.
“More people are finding full-time jobs and average wages have grown yet again, meaning more families have the security of a regular wage.
“However, there is always more to do. That’s why we’re creating a welfare system that rewards work through universal credit, which helps claimants keep more of the money they earn.”
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