Kent and Medway unemployment figures tumble during April 2022 - but cost of living crisis show no sign of easing


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There has been a big drop in the unemployment figures across all of Kent's districts as nationally the jobless numbers fall to their lowest in almost 50 years.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in the county claiming Universal Credit in April fell by 1,895 - a drop of 4.3% - on the previous month's adjusted figures.

Jobless numbers tumbled last month across the county - but it's unlikely to ease the struggles of many
Jobless numbers tumbled last month across the county - but it's unlikely to ease the struggles of many

It means across Kent and Medway, the percentage of people out of work last month stood at 3.7% of those of working age - down from 3.9% in March.

It matches the national average which saw the rate of unemployment drop to 3.7% in the three months to March - the lowest since the end of 1974.

Further history was made when the number of job vacancies, nationwide, exceeded those looking for work for the first time.

However, while the figures sound impressive, workers have seen their pay fall further behind soaring inflation.

And with the prices of goods showing no sign of slowing - the Bank of England predicting inflation could hit double figures by the end of the year - it will mean despite more people being in work, the struggle to make ends meet given the soaring cost of living will not be eased.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics for April 2022
Figures from the Office for National Statistics for April 2022

According to the ONS figures, regular pay dropped by 2.9% in March when taking Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation into account – the biggest fall since November 2011.

Looking across the county, Tunbridge Wells saw the biggest drop in claims of 6.1% month-on-month (with just 2.4% of the district unemployed), closely followed by Canterbury at 5.5% (3.1%), Dover and Maidstone at 5.4% (4% and 3.2%) and Thanet seeing a 5% fall. Thanet has the highest rate of unemployment in the county at 6.5%.

The nearest district to Thanet's figures is Folkestone and Hythe which has 4.5% of its working age population claiming benefits. Medway and Gravesham both stand at 4.4%.

The highest rate of employment, perhaps not surprisingly, is in the west of the county. Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling both stand at 2.2% with Tunbridge Wells just behind with 2.4%.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: "Total employment, while up on the quarter, remains below its pre-pandemic level.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak knows the economic situation is challenging
Chancellor Rishi Sunak knows the economic situation is challenging

“Since the start of the pandemic, around half a million more people have completely disengaged from the labour market.

"Indeed, with the latest fall in unemployment, to its lowest rate since 1974, there were actually fewer unemployed people than job vacancies for the first time since records began.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak added: “I understand that these are anxious times for people, but it’s reassuring that fewer people are out of work than was previously feared.”

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