Unemployment grows in Kent
Another 170 people joined the dole queue in Kent last month.
There were 18,250 people claiming unemployment benefits in the county in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It is the fourth straight month the total has risen but the first for many years when there has also been a jump across the UK.
Nationally, there were 1.7 million unemployed people in the three months to February, an increase of 21,000. The unemployment rate was 5.1%.
Across the South East, unemployment jumped by 8,000 over the same period to 178,000, although it is down 17,000 compared to last year.
The region’s unemployment rate is 3.8%, while the number of people in work fell by 11,000 to 4.46 million.
Thanet suffered the largest increase in the county of those on jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit, with a jump of 70 people giving the district a total of 2,745 on the dole.
Canterbury’s claimant count jumped by 65 to 1,230, while Maidstone was up 60 to 1,245.
The largest decline was in Medway, where 50 people found work, bringing its total to 3,590 – still the largest in Kent.
The rest of the county was broadly flat, with Ashford up 25 to 1,0765, Dover up 20 to 1,340, Gravesham up 10 to 1,355, Swale up 10 to 1,840, Sevenoaks up five to 525 and Shepway up five to 1,375.
These increases were offset by decreases in Dartford, down 30 to 740, Tonbridge and Malling, down 15 to 705 and Tunbridge Wells, down 15 to 490.
Ashford jobcentre manager Heather Ahern said: “We actually think the jobs market is really buoyant at the moment.
“We have had really robust recruitment in the local area, with B&M in Sevington Business Park doing a massive drive with us recently.
“There is huge regeneration going on across the area and we are getting a very positive vibe from employers.
“We are seeing no evidence that concerns about the EU referendum are affecting recruitment.”