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Increase in Sheppey and Sittingbourne jobless total

By Chris Price

In total, 1,627 people were in receipt of the benefit, up by six on February.

Swale as a whole saw a decline of 16 to 1,841.

Dole queues across the county shortened for the first time this year giving the government a final boost heading into the general election.

There were 431 fewer people claimants in March, taking the total to 19,405, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The fall follows two consecutive rises, which itself came after 11 months of consecutive decline.

The usual highest fallers of Medway and Thanet, which have Kent’s highest totals, were broken up by two districts on the Kent coast.

Shepway was the biggest faller, with 79 fewer people on unemployment benefit, a total of 1,505.

It just beat Dover, where 78 fewer claimants lined up for the dole, taking the total to 1,475.

The county's dole queues have shrunk for the first time this year

The county's dole queues have shrunk for the first time this year

They were followed by Thanet, down 71 to 2,849, then Medway, down 65 to 3,901.

There were two districts which saw their totals rise – Tonbridge and Malling up 22 to 831 and Maidstone up 11 to 1,327 – but the rest of the trend was for modest declines.

Ashford was the best of the rest, down 49 to 1,073, with Canterbury down 37 to 1,187.

Sevenoaks watched its claimant count fall by 24 to 601, while Gravesham was down 23 to 1,407.

Dartford, down 14 to 886, and Tunbridge Wells, down eight to 522.

Unemployment fell by 13,000 in the South East in the three months to February to 195,00, a fall of 6.1%.

The South East had the UK’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.2%, while the employment rate was the highest in the country at 77%.

Nationally, unemployment fell 76,000 to 1.84 million, taking the jobless rate down to 5.6%.

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