Unemployment figures for Kent & Medway in February on the rise as vacancies reduce

Unemployment figures across the county continue to creep up as the number of vacancies dwindle, according to the latest statistics.

Across Kent and Medway, the figures from the Office for National Statistics saw February's unemployment total rise to 37,845. That's up 320 from January.

Unemployment figures across the county are creeping up
Unemployment figures across the county are creeping up

And preliminary figures for March - which are subject to change - suggest that figure rising yet higher.

It comes amid a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty for the country, with the cost-of-living crisis and high inflation still biting hard. Inflation rose to 10.4% last month, breaking a three-month string of declines. It has left companies facing uncertain futures and, as a consequence, pressing pause on recruitment.

Across the county, those claiming benefits rose in the vast majority of districts.

Only Ashford, Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling saw slight falls, while Dover remained unchanged.

Thanet remains the district with the highest proportion of residents out of work at 5.6%, followed by Gravesham (4.1%) and Folkestone & Hythe (4%).

Once again, the likes of Sevenoaks and Tonbridge & Malling (both 2%) and Tunbridge Wells (2.2%) were at the opposite end of the scale.

The ONS figures revealed the unemployment rate nationally lifted to 3.8% in the three months to February, up from 3.7% in the previous three months and the highest since the second quarter of 2022. Many economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged.

The data also revealed vacancies fell by another 47,000 to 1.1 million in the three months to March.

The ONS said this reflects “uncertainty across industries, as survey respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “While unemployment remains close to historic lows, rising prices continue to eat into pay cheques which is why halving inflation this year is one of our top economic priorities.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

“To help families in the meantime, we are making work pay with a record increase in the National Living Wage, while providing cost of living support worth an average of £3,300 per household this year and last, funded through windfall taxes on energy profits."

The high rate of inflation continues to outstrip pay rises which stand at an average of 6.6%.

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