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Unemployment Kent: Dole queues grow at fastest rate for more than a year in the county in February

By Chris Price

Dole queues in Kent grew at their fastest rate in more than a year as seasonal work came to an end and big redundancies affected areas.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits jumped by 680 to 19,130 in February, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is the largest rise since January last year.
Every district in the county recorded an increase in its claimant count.

More people are on the dole in Kent

More people are on the dole in Kent

Every district in the county recorded an increase in its claimant count.

By far the majority were men, numbering 11,985, most of whom were in the 25 to 49 age bracket, totalling 6,095.

However, proportionally the largest increase was among 16 to 24-year-olds overall, up 4.4% (180) to 4,270.

Ashford Jobcentre manager Hamera Ahmed said the jump in her area was due to 85 redundancies announced by troubled printer Headley Brothers.

She added: “In other areas a lot of seasonal work ended in February which has had an impact.”

The figures are expected to rise further in May when Dover Jobcentre becomes the first in Kent to begin introducing the second phase of universal credit.

The benefit is available to some people who are still in work, as well as those who would claim the traditional jobseeker’s allowance.

The claimant count in Kent has increased compared to the same time a year ago

The claimant count in Kent has increased compared to the same time a year ago

Medway recorded the largest jump in people on unemployment benefits across the county last month, up 115 to 3,445.

In Thanet the figure rose by 80 to 2,865, Gravesham was up 75 to 1,365, Dover grew by 70 to 1,490 and Dartford and Maidstone both increased by 65 to 810 and 1,285 respectively.

While Shepway grew by 55 to 1,450, Swale’s claimant count tipped over the 2,000 mark for the first time since July 2014, up 40 to 2,005.

Across the South East, unemployment fell by 1,000 to 163,000 in the three months to January. It is down 15,000 on this time a year ago.

The number of people in work was up 15,000 to 4.54 million compared to the previous quarter.

The South East unemployment rate of 3.5% was the lowest in the UK. The region also had the highest employment rate in the UK at 78.5%.

Nationally, the number of people out of work fell to to 1.58 million in the three months to January.

The UK unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, its lowest level in 41 years.

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