Kent's unemployment figures for September 2021 sees 1,515 come off Universal Credit


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Unemployment numbers across the county continued to fall in September, as the county matched the rest of the UK in recovering from the ravages of the pandemic.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed the total number of people claiming Universal Credit across Kent and Medway during the month fell by 1,515 - the equivalent of almost 2.8%

Jobless figures have continued to fall across the county
Jobless figures have continued to fall across the county

It continues a downward trend which started in February of this year.

It leaves the total number of people making claims in the county 53,275 - 4.7% of the population and broadly in line with national figures - compared to last month's adjusted figures of 54.790.

However, there are concerns the conclusion of the furlough scheme at the end of September could see those numbers reverse when October's figures are released.

Every district and unitary authority in the county saw a decrease in claimants with Sevenoaks seeing the most dramatic fall as 125 came off the claims list - representing a drop of 5.6% on August's figures.

There were sizeable drops too for Tonbridge (which saw a 4.8% drop), Medway (3.8%), Dartford (3.5%), Gravesham (3%) and Canterbury (3%).

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said of the national picture: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

“Vacancies also reached a new one-month record in September, at nearly 1.2 million, with our latest estimates suggesting that all industries have at least as many jobs on offer now as before the onset of Covid-19.”

But the ONS flagged the impact of the mounting recruitment crisis in the UK, with recent analysis showing a raft of sectors struggling to fill posts as vacancies rose 318,000 above levels seen before Covid.

The hospitality sector is finding it the most difficult to recruit, according to recent ONS analysis, with nearly a third (30%) saying it is harder than normal to fill vacancies.

Commenting on the figures, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, James Martin, said: "Today’s figures show a second month with a record number of vacancies, now at more than a third above their pre-pandemic levels. With Brexit and the pandemic driving a more deep-seated decline in labour supply, businesses throughout the UK tell us they cannot access the skills they need even as their costs balloon.

These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ abilities to fulfil orders and meet customer demand

“These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ abilities to fulfil orders and meet customer demand. Business investment will then suffer, curbing any chance of a prolonged recovery.

“Expanding the Shortage Occupation List will help businesses access the skills they need when they can’t recruit locally in the shorter term, supporting them to create a truly high-wage and high-productivity economy in the longer-term.

“Furlough ended in September, and the impact of that decision may not be fully picked up in the latest data. Skills mismatches are very likely to limit how many of those seeking jobs after furlough can move into available roles.”

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