UK unemployment figures fall, as average earnings rise

UK unemployment fell to a decade-low rate of 1.68 million from November to January, according to the Office for National Statistics.  

The figures are down 28,000 from the previous quarter.

Across the country, 31.42 million are in work, 478,000 up on a year ago. The employment rate is 74.1%, the joint highest since current records began in 1971.

However, Kent's unemployment figures has grown to a total of 177,000. 

Dole queues lengthened by 200 people across Kent last month, once again bucking the national trend.

job centre

In the county, there were 18,080 claimants on jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit in February according to figure released by the Office for National Statistics.

It comes after a 1,110 person increase a month earlier, which was the largest in three years.

The county’s performance was in stark contrast to the national picture, where the number of unemployed people fell by 28,000 to 1.68 million in the three months to January.

Unemployment grew across the South East, with another 8,000 out of work, bringing the region’s total to 177,000.

However, its unemployment rate of 3.8% remains lower than the national figure of 5.1%.

In Kent, the largest jump was seen in Medway, where another 80 people joined the dole queue, bringing its total to 3,640, the highest in the county.

Other large risers were Canterbury and Thanet, both up 50 to 1,165 and 2,675 respectively, while Dartford’s claimant count increased by 45 to 770.

However, there were significant falls in Swale, down 60 to 1,830, and Sevenoaks, down 25 to 520.

Maidstone Jobcentre work service manager Libby Swift said: “We are still on the increase because the retail sector held on to people from Christmas through January.

“It hit February a bit more but the number of claims has reduced through March so we will start to stabilise.”

Completing Kent’s picture, Gravesham was up 40 to 1,345, Dover was up 20 to 1,320 and Maidstone up 15 to 1,185.

Relative non movers were Tunbridge Wells, up five to 505, Ashford, down five to 1,050, Tonbridge and Malling, down five to 720, while Shepway remained at 1,370.

The new figures also revealed that across the country, average weekly earnings, including bonuses, grew by 2.1% between November and January, up from 1.9% growth between October and December of last year. Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 2.2%, up from 2% during the previous three month period.

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