Published: 10:00, 21 February 2018
The number of people on unemployment-related benefits across Kent rocketed up by more than 600 last month.
The rise of 635 to 20,425 in January came as work over the festive season came to an end and more areas began adopting universal credit.
Every district in Kent recorded an increase, with the largest rise in Thanet, up 140 to 3,450, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It is the fourth straight month the district has incurred the biggest increase in its claimant count.
Thanet began offering the full version of the new universal credit in September, which also pays some people who have found work to help them manage the change over from receiving benefits to a wage.
The next largest increase was in Medway, up 95 to 3,360.
Shepway jumped by 70 to 1,510, having experienced Kent’s second highest increase in December, growing by 90, even though it does not fully roll out universal credit until May.
Other significant rises were in Dover, up 55 to 1,990, Canterbury, up 50 to 1,405 and Tunbridge Wells, up 45 to 665.
David Crumley, partnership manager at Ashford, Folkestone and Dover Jobcentres, said: "February is traditionally a month where we see people coming out of work in retail and hospitality after the Christmas and New Year period.
"From our perspective the labour market remains buoyant with the number of vacancies up on last month.
"This is simply a seasonal fluctuation."
Across the South East, the number of people out of work fell by 3,000 to 150,000 in the three months to December, putting the region's unemployment rate at 3.1%, the lowest in the country.
Nationally, there was an unexpected rise in the UK's jobless total, up 46,000 to 1.47 million, its largest rise in almost five years.
The unemployment rate was 4.4%.
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